Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tomas and Francis Talk,, walking in Wimbeldon 2/28/13

There are little parks and little lanes where no one goes at night. At least not that late. But the vampires walked there. Francis and Miranda and Tomas savored the clean, damp air. It was quiet. They were alone, save for an occasional rabbit, or some other hedgerow creature. And for the longest time no one said anything. But then Francis began to speak.

He whispered - What do you think? Do I still have 'the touch?'... Tomas thought for a moment. He stopped and said - You do... Francis said - What, and that's all?... Tomas looked down. He didn't know what to say. He just wanted to walk. He just wanted to think. He just wanted to see his old friends. But three hundred years is a long time, even by night-folk reckoning and his feelings were very much changed..... Miranda sensed it. Francis probably did too.... She whispered - Why must you be like that? Can't we just walk? Why must you be so particular about things. You had your night. You had your fun. The 'Spaniard' (his name for Tomas) was there. He saw you do it. And I saw how he watched. For a time he fell under your spell. Can't you keep your mouth shut?! Isn't that enough?

Francis looked hurt. But he was so good at aping 'human' emotion. He said - Tomas, are you offended?... And his eyes really did look concerned. Indeed, his theatrical aplomb was one of his charms. Shakespeare knew it and for that reason made him Hamlet's father's ghost, plus Oberon on two or three occasions. How he relished such mummery, for is that not what night-folk do each night, progressing through the lives of men like wolves among the sheep. A dusty fleece thrown 'cross the back can only hide so much. But Francis didn't care. Mortals were as pawns to him and London but the board.

They turned a corner and came out upon a pretty street of shuttered stores. Miranda studied her image in the small panes of a gift shop. Her two friends took seats on a little bench meant for tired shoppers, or old bones watching the passing scene. Francis reached out and playfully jabbed Tomas in the ribs...... Tommy, Tommy, Tommy, Tommy-boy - he said. Still pining for sainthood. Let me see those teeth. Come on. Give us a smile. Show us what you can do. Come on. Come on..... And he mussed the long black curls...... For an instant Tomas flinched and pulled back. He thrust his hands down into his coat pockets and feigned indifference. But Francis made 'eyes' at him and went tsk-tsk-tsk. Then he jabbed him and smiled once again...  But nothing. Miranda studied lacquer ware, while Tomas watched the moon.

Francis said - Am I that disgusting? Are my games so disappointing? I thought this night would be but a respite, away from that 'blue nose' who once ruled all Rome. But I was wrong. Go back to that house. Run, run back to Hoxton Street and learn the mysteries that serve no good.

Tomas quietly said - Do you know them?..... Francis shrugged... Miranda snickered. And 'The Spaniard' went on - For me the deed is not a 'play.' I gain the death another way..... Francis rolled his eyes and said - Ooh! A poet! Good night, Ruby Tuesday. Who could lay a name on you?! There! I know one too! .... And he stuck  out his bright red tongue. Then he levitated up into the nighttime air for approximately three or four cubits and pivoted 'round a street lamp, much as Gene Kelly did in 'Singing In The Rain.' I suppose to display his own magical prowess. But Tomas was not impressed. 

Miranda said - Lets go home. So they walked 'round the corner, heading back toward the car. Tomas said - Please forgive me, brother. I do not mean to judge. But the monthly meal is sacred to me. I make not sport, but say the name and name the sin... and then I take the blood.... How else could I do it? I... meant to study Scripture and praise The Name of God........ Francis exhaled and whispered -  And do you still believe it?.......... Tomas nodded and said - I've played this scene before and the end remains the same...

After a bit they approached the car and got in. Miranda drove back to the 'magic' house. And Tomas knew the truth was deep inside him. No outside force could change it. 

Hoxton Street was interesting. The 'Golden Dawn' intriguing.

But soon they'd return to the town house in Philadelphia...

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The Honorable Maude Harcum .. TOMAS & FRANCIS & MIRANDA 2/28/13

Although Wimbeldon is part of Greater London and has been since 1965, it is still very much a de facto independent jewel-box municipality. There's a beautiful, cozy shopping district... a section for stylish flats and a secluded quarter, privately set aside for manor houses. If you're in The States, think Riverdale in New York, or Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia and you'll know what I mean.

Francis and Miranda love to visit the big houses, sometimes as guests... sometimes as something else. They stand there, waiting by the side of a bed in a still, dark sleep chamber. Often taking turns. One hides in the deepest shadows. One stands in a moonbeam. You know, the best draperies almost always let a little bit leak in. 

And night-folk can wait for hours. Vampires are adept at such things. They can drift away into an almost out of body experience and savor the flavors of far off places. Francis dreams of undersea cities ruled by the Mer-King , bathed in cold, blue light emanating from huge, tree-like, crystalline channels, the remains of giant corals, housing immense colonies of phosphorescent, ancient microbes. Boulevards of such things line stately thoroughfares  and smaller 'shrubs'  front all the houses. Such a perfect place for those adverse to light. 

So he stands there, like a dazed statue, while Miranda inventories the shoes. 

Then the victim stirs. perhaps she farts and curls up tight in an attempt to forestall peeing. Ah, the covers feel so good. Even the best houses get chilly at night.  But the tightening of groin muscles can only do so much, so she opens her eyes and peers into the near-black charcoal grey, contemplating the five meter dash to her neo-Edwardian en suite. 

Two heartbeats later, minute fibers deep inside the cranial orbits begin to focus. And then she sees it, a human hand not two feet from her face, pale and white in the gloom. At first it seems disembodied, a gruesome piece of human carnage floating in the night. It's a dream. It's a dream. It must be a dream. And the 'pee pinch' disappears, for just a little. Then the irises dilate, allowing a few more ghostly photons  to dance through the pupil and die upon the retina.

She sees the outline. She sees the body, all in black. The face is smooth and young... relaxed. The eyes are dazed, still swimming with the mer-folk. And she pees a little. The smell instantly wakes him. He looks down and smiles. She screams, but there is no sound. His magic can do that.

This one has hurt people. This one has killed. Mean girls can do that with words.... their own sort of evil magic. It oozes from the pores.... A frenzied sampling of pills gathered from the leavings of public school fledglings eager to test their talons. 

And the Honorable Maude Harcum, great niece of a Viscount, stood there watching as a lesser girl passed away. 

Well, tit for tat, as they say. This time it's her turn. Francis kneels down, takes her hand, kisses it and bites off a finger. She shudders and pees the bed, bathed in the wet , hot stink.. 

All she can do is gasp 'please..please..please.'... as he laps up the blood from her wound. She tries to kick him, aiming for his doggy parts. But he punches her square in the stomach. Francis is not one for games. Then he twists her head, exposing the neck and goes in for the kill.

Miranda creeps out from her hiding place, wearing a new pair of costly shoes. And Tomas is right behind. They take in the scene and wave at the girl as she gives up the ghost and melds with the shadows, reluctant to leave her form. Ectoplasm hangs in the air like smoke, til Francis bats it away with an impatient wave of his hand. 

They watch small, blue flames skip across the body, joining together and burning it up. The sheets remain... the coverlets and the pillows. But the naughty girl is gone. And a tiny Lhasa Apso runs out from 'neath the bed, leaps up onto the embers and laps the grease away.

Miranda whispers - Was she good?

And Francis answers - Very.... as Tomas' appetite begins to grow... 

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

THE NIGHT BEFORE A NIGHT IN WIMBLEDON ..TOMAS RUNS WITH OLD FRIENDS ..2/26/13

Tomas remembered the old nights. He remembered the barges, opulent, river platforms, rowed by liveried watermen, progressing down the Thames from just west of The City to the noble enclosure of Wimbeldon.  This was the first 'Main Line'... the first Tuxedo Park and the original Beverly hills. Peers mingled with merchant kings in a fine, country town filled with fresh, new manor houses and a resident Dowager Queen.

Vampirinos came to dance at the splendid balls and assemblies.... and vampirinas too. Such theatricality. Huge sparklers lined the paths from quay to porte cochere, where bewigged courtiers and would-be courtiers sailed into glittering halls, like ships of the line into Cadiz. 

They called him 'the Spaniard,' second son to a royally connected hidalgo, from an old Andalusian dynasty predating The Reconquest.  And Tomas obliged them with sensual couplets of poesia antigua and hot, little kisses.

But these nights were not for dining and his tid-bits all survived. Though he sometimes did some 'shopping' for a rump-roast, or a loin to be devoured later. Corruption flowered just as brightly then as it does now. And he did his best to cull the grossest weeds. 

Francis did the same. Miranda was his 'beard.' For who'd suspect a gentleman allied to such as her of wanting more than all the others did? A seat on The East India Company? He could have it. A reception at Saint James? Why not?

Blood flowed free in those days. Money too.  London was the best of all possible worlds, for the gentlemen of the day ... and the denizens of the night...

Tomas had digs in The West End, a new, classic townhouse. columned doorway, white stucco facade and all that. At least I think he did. He bought and sold them so often. But such was the fashion. Society was in flux. The modern age was born...

And it still has not come of age.....

But how goes it in the fabled township after all these years?....... Even better. Wimbeldon-the-fair... a town and country playground for the stylish and ever-young.

No barge conveyed them out this way on this cold winter night..... A Jaguar raced along the road, a coach devoid of light.

And somewhere in a manor house behind an ivy wall, a 'dead' girl, though still dancing, was the fairest corpse of all....

Tomorrow night 'it' happens.

Tomas relives the old 'days.'

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Monday, February 25, 2013

THE ENCHANTING CAPABILITIES OF DARK MATTER ... More with 'The Golden Dawn'.. 2/26/13

Some meetings were rather like services among The Society of Friends (Quakers). Vampirinos and vamperinas sat together, staring into the ether as they inhaled the smoke from exotic fires. After a while, images flowed between them, til each separate  mind joined as one. Mortal guests were occasionally included. The outcome was still the same, though it took a little longer. 

Sarah liked these things. She was always rather contemplative. You know, the bookshop is still there. The cozy space, with the old wooden shelves, dim tiny lamps and scattered hassocks still welcomes readers on cold, dark nights. Someone else runs it now. I don't know if Tomas set it up, or one of the others. Obviously a mortal 'familiar' helped. But the place still survives. That's the important part. 

Edith says it occupies a 'rupture,' a point where the visible world meets something else. She can feel those things. You can too. Ever walk down the street... everything's 'normal,'... everything's right... but then you get a feeling like it isn't. If it's nighttime, suddenly the sky feels too vast.. the stars too real.. the dark too menacing. Comets fall on nights like that. And some people disappear.

But you've felt it. Who knows what's over there? 

Annie sits in the garden. Not just her. Two old souls sit with her..not vampires, but witches, I believe. They occupy iron settees arranged among the dead, winter planting beds. But the evergreens are still there. She plucks off needles and flicks them into the dark. At least at the REVELS she had Larry. Sometimes the witches sing songs... very quiet songs. And sometimes they change an odd little mousy thing racing through the cold into miniature dragons, or lost, scared medieval knights. I believe the cats take care of them. But she is developing a heightened sensitivity. This place is drenched in it. Figurines on shelves turn ceramic heads on ceramic necks when certain people pass by. And a spider in the library carefully studies a volume of old incunabula left open on a table.

Oh, some of the vampires sheltered here still sneak out to kill... A discrete bite here... A small nip there... But they're like Tomas (mostly) and only cull the wicked. 

It's coming though. The emperor knows, for he is far in advance of most. Not because he was once the Great Marcus Aurelius. But because he's always been partial to magic.... and since that day, high atop the almost completed, dome of The Pantheon (scroll back a few nights...you'll see), he's always been partial to goodness.

You give a little love and it all comes back to you. You're gonna be remembered for the things that you say and do.... Remember that song from the Coke ads they used to show at the movies? It was a precursor. 'They' let them seep through. And now that I said it, you're going to be hearing that song for quite a while.

Comes the Equinox.... Comes The Change...... Will everything be different? Not right away. Not for a time. So eat your Cheetohs and punch the 'weird' kid. Lie on your taxes and ridicule the neighbors. Que sera, sera... and all that... but not tonight.

Tomas is off with Francis and Miranda. He always did enjoy watching them work. But in the old days, those lacy cuffs and big, curly wigs got in the way. Things are so much neater now. Besides, they only cull the wicked. Tonight should be quite a show. 

Sometimes Miranda lets her adorable, little King Charles Cavalier lick up all the grease. Doggies love such treats. 

At least two thirds of the firmament is made of dark matter. No one knows what it is.... except for certain 'people' in a large, Georgian house on Hoxton Street.

Remember the Coke ad. Remember the song....

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

MEANWHILE BACK ON HOXTON STREET... (back at the GOLDEN DAWN HOUSE.) 2/25/13

We ate the cheese. We ate the grapes. The woman brought us a ceramic carafe filled with new wine. I relished it.... the smooth creaminess... the nutty flavor... the acidic bite...But before I go all Food Network on you, on to the heart of the matter.

As the day waned and the shadows lengthened, the reality of this place began to slowly dissolve. Stones turned into shadows and we who were children assumed or true form. Two heartbeats later all were back in the residence.. seated on the floor of a room with golden walls. Indeed, every surface was gold, resembling nothing so much as the interior of a large cube. There were no windows, or doors. The light, simply...was.

Our imperial guide said - Of such is magic. Vibrations to be manipulated...... Then he looked at me and continued... Tomas, I believe your Doctor Franklin feels the same?..... I nodded, then said - We have dabbled in this world many times and once, months back, slipped into what we assumed to be a parallel universe...... The Great Aurelius corrected - Not parallel...alternate. Had it been truly parallel, you'd never get inside. And do you think there hasn't been a reason for all this?.... Tomas, you block us. You're afraid. You hold back. Stop it..... All of you do that.... You, woman of the Pines..... (Edith nervously dropped a grape, the only still existent souvenir from our time in Rome and it seemed to fall through the golden floor as if through water.).... the emperor continued - tell what you see. Share what you feel. You're descended from a great wise woman. Did you know that?..... She shook her head'no.' ..... The emperor sighed - Well now you do..... Who was she? - asked Edith. But the emperor only laughed. Sarah said- Please, sir, tell us more......  Annie played with her hair. Before continuing, he reached out and gently slapped her hand away.... Don't do that - he said..... wilkravitz chuckled to think such a powerful entity even noticed such things, but Baylah pinched him and he stopped...... Our teacher inhaled, clapped his hands and said - Not now. It's time to smell the pasta..... (You know how vampires savor the aroma, don't you? We told you that.) So we  got to our feet and self-consciously looked around for a way out, til our mentor created a door......

Which vampire was I? What good would it do you to know my name?  You don't know us all. Our world  is like water. Nothing separates us. We flow together like rivers to the sea. The magic is the magic. And we are only vessels. It has been said that God is an ever growing jewel and we are (you too, mortals) facets, glittering upon the surface. They say a lot of things. But some of them are true.

Perhaps I am a solvent sent to break down walls? Miranda knows my name, but I do not think she'll tell you.

A few heartbeats later, the vampires (and other enchanted beings) gathered in a commodious salon and found seats in the warm, soft, deep upholstered chairs, where they silently absorbed the songs of Leonard Cohen. I believe he was singing Hallelujah. Some closed their eyes. But they were not sleeping. Some stared into the low, flickering candlelight. But they were not truly awake. Hallelujah... that was it.

Why don't you Google the words?..... Nothing stands between us. We are One....

Now it's late, at least for those of you upon the western landmass. So go to sleep. The 'Oscars' were but a dream. There's work tomorrow.

Good bye...

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THE IMPERIAL CITY.. a venue for the strange & miraculous 2/24/13

We were there. We were in the Pantheon and our guide was a former emperor. Votive flames illuminated the many idols spaced 'round the perimeter and priestesses sang hymns to the gods. Devotees followed a path, stopping at each station to say the right prayer to the proper deity. 

And we were children, each dressed in child's clothes, fine, light woolen tunics, embroidered along the hems with tiny birds and leaves and honey bees. The emperor Marcus Aurelius wore senatorial garb, the traditional toga, edged with the identifying deep purple border. Beneath that was a loose, tee shirt-like garment going down to the knees. Lesser citizens wore plain togas lacking any sign of rank or station. Two 'slaves' came up behind. But I cannot vouch for their humanity. Each might have been just a magical construct, designed to lend credence to our presence, for few well born Romans braved the streets without them. 

Our apparent pater familia said - Rome was a special place, poised at a time when magic was real and science but its little sister. Few questioned the truth of it all... for it was just the way of things. Grandmothers saw dead souls in their dreams. Generals blessed weapons with appropriate offerings and travelers fed creatures out beyond the campfire's glow.

We left that place, passing out through the massive bronze doors. And the first thing I noticed was the stifling heat. Another age would call it ninety seven degrees. Some would say thirty eight.  Romans of the day termed it 'a fast sizzle' for the length of time it took an egg to fry atop the roadway.  Our mysterious attendants stopped at a stall and purchased long, loose bunches of fragrant herbs, used to beat the air around us, so that we might smell sweetness instead of urine and filth. The juvenile Baylah scrunched her nose. Tomas just ignored the heat, as befitting an Andalusian aristocrat.  Annie stared silently. Then she asked the emperor for a 'kleenex' so that she might wipe her brow. But he just chucked. And Sarah stayed dry, even in this human form. For human we were, or appeared to be. 

Nine heartbeats later a little boy raced passed and his mother came soon after. The emperor merely gestured toward the child and we saw his face. We saw the vulpine countenance .... his short, fine-tipped muzzle.... the black edged, pointy ears.

Edith said - Please, Sir, what is that? (they have such fine manners in The Pines)... Marcus The Good said - That is a boy, normal in every way, save for the spell woven 'round him. Can you feel it? Can you taste it? Magic has a certain presence on the tongue, like sweet, fresh blood such as wood nymphs often have, or cherries brought all the way from Persia.....

We passed a man plucking sprites from the air. He'd quickly pinch a bit of ether beyond his face and from out of nowhere capture a tiny being, like a small, angry dragonfly born to a human mother. Such beauty. Such delicate perfection. And those around him paid dearly, for these things brought luck. Two hundred sesturces. That was the price. From the look of his fine, Galician sandals, business was good. Some paid extra for the cunning, little cages, complete with miniature, upholstered sleeping platforms and tiny mirrors made of polished metal. 

Sarah quietly asked - Forgive me, Sire, but why can he not just conjure the gold?

He smiled and said - Perhaps he has his limits, or perhaps he doubts too much. 

Then he led us into a better grade caupona (street cafe) and sat us down to a cool, fresh lunch of satisfying cheeses and fat, juicy grapes. 

And the magic allowing us to eat mortal food was the best kind of magic of all....

Wonders can be real... Remember that.....

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Baby Emperor Tells Us Things... the occulus .. 2/23/13

They built The Pantheon when I was a boy. A place for all the gods. A stone and marble ewer for the blending of divinities. Never before had there been such a place. Some say it came in answer to the Jews,  both 'The Temple' crowd and 'The Joshua contingent' (they did not call him Jesus much back then, you know). More pensive elements of our better classes questioned things. The gods of Olympus seemed small and constrained, tied only to the Earth and those who crawled upon it. So we refurbished them in that great, domed space and gave them room to fly. 

Since we were of imperial-senatorial stock, my father arranged a visit to the rooftop, crowned by an intricate head-dress of light weight scaffolding. Many local worthies made the climb to look down through the occulus, high above the city, and see the ceramicists toiling down below, creating patterns on the vast, cold floor. Such a structure... such a dome... The very vault of heaven, held up by dreams and kisses. A place without columns. Some peered through polished lenses, the better to study the developments within, like little Jupiters gazing down from The Mountain.

Some slaves toiled 'round the edge of the circular opening, a great empty teat upon the breast of Rome, installing  alabaster molding meant to frame the lofty skylight. How they scampered about, ignoring the danger. Goats upon the heights, such as one might see in The Alps, or The Atlas Mountains, where the Berbers lived. 

Their foreman, a freedman (I could tell by the cap) harried them, not so much due to any real sense of impatience, but more in homage to 'betters,' like us. 

Now at first the dome was dry, bathed in the orange light of a Roman afternoon. But then it began to rain. Oh, the clouds were already in place. you know how the sun comes in low at that time of day. And my mother did not want us to go because of it, however, Aristobolus, my pedagogue, a highly educated and pampered slave from Syracusa, well versed in the natural philosophies (sciences), guaranteed the weather would be appropriate for such an outting, so we went. And now we were stuck, clinging to the rickety up-rights, in a chill, fall, windy rain. 

Some of the slave laborers did likewise, but the foreman insisted the molding be finished. His patron had something to do with the construction of the place and I suppose he had his orders. But the footing was treacherous and my father and I watched wide-eyed, as a young man, squinting against the rain, crawled toward a precarious perch along the edge. Now any other time a slave would be dispatched to hold his girdle (belt), so that he would not fall. But the foreman was distracted by the stupid questions of a provincial land owner from Umbria and so no guardian was sent out.

The young man tried. He bowed. He gestured. He cleared his throat, but no one noticed. Being a slave and a lowly one at that (why else would he do such dangerous work?) he dared not speak out of turn. Blindings and mutings were commonplace... maimings too. So he brushed the wet hair from his eyes and inched toward the windy precipice, quietly bemoaning his fate (Roman cement dried under all conditions. Our engineering was superb). 

How he grasped the edge. There was nothing else to hold on to. And he fought not to look down to the floor, so far below. The first length of molding, drawn from a pouch over his shoulder fit nicely and the second went in just as well. One more and he'd be finished. But a gull, blown in from the coast at Ostia, swooped low, searching for shelter amidst the intricate scaffolding (you know how little they fear humans). And it hit the frightened, young man, just hard enough to make him flinch, raise his hand and lurch over the edge.

Most people up there with us never noticed,semi- secure beneath a flimsy wooden  barrier. But I did. I heard him call out in a rather choked and quiet moan, lost amidst the wind and rain, as he disappeared through the hole. Some said he tried to grab on. Those below saw it all too. The molding was such that had his fingers been strong enough he could have. There were groves. There were places. But these stones were not dry. The 'batter' had not set. And so he tumbled down through the vault, into this house of gods.

I heard the smack. I heard the crunch. I heard the people scream. The foreman did too. He made a face. Slaves cost money you know. Equipment is not cheap. But then he went back to his conversation, unwilling to offend his guest. I couldn't look at him after that. 

That's when I became ' Marcus Aurelius.' That's when I became 'the good emperor.' 

I know I have digressed. Vampires often do. We have so much to remember, after all.

But I thought I'd share a bit of my youth. 

Tomorrow we'll return to the house on Hoxton Street.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

MARCUS AURELIUS SPEAKS.. On The Study of Magic 2/22/13

This is wilkravitz. It's all coming from me tonight. Tomas fixed it up. He wants a moment by moment account. And he has enough abilities of his own to arrange it. So I think. I speak in my head and it appears on the screen. I don't even have the laptop with me. I don't even know where it is. Probably somewhere back in the 'mews' house. But here'
what's going on now....

Francis and Miranda ushered us into a fairly spacious, neo-classical entry hall. Black and white marble tiles on the floor. White, plastered walls. Niches with Greco-Roman busts.  Just right for this type of house, I'm told. And it was quiet. So quiet. Yet I could hear... no, not hear...'feel' the presence of other souls deep within the building, as if the interior was bigger than the exterior.... a difficult transformation to achieve....At least I know that now.

A man came out to greet us. And you know who he looked like?... Like Adam Sandler with curly hair and a curly beard.... just like in Don't Mess With The Zohan. For real. I mean it. I kid you not ... To quote Jack Paar, who I'm told was also somewhere deep inside there too. ...!!! How do I know how Jack Paar sounded? He was before my time. But I know. I've 'seen' it. I know things!!!???

The bearded one approached and Francis said - 'Divinity,' I'd like to present my esteemed friend, the venerable life-eater, Jonathon ben Macabi and his entourage, late of the New World city of Philadelphia....... The one time Roman emperor acknowledged our leader's presence with a raised eyebrow and a nod. Mr. Spock, upon the bridge of The Star Ship Enterprise could not have done any better..... With that we entered a small, though comfortable sitting room adjacent to the clean, spare hall. The Imperial One sat down first, right by the fire, I must add, and we found chairs nearby. 

For perhaps twelve heartbeats no one spoke. The emperor adjusted the crease in his trousers (Hugo Boss... Sarah told me). Annie stared at a fine collection of small pieces of Egyptian funerary art running the length of the mantle piece. The rest of us just looked at the floor, waiting to be addressed. This man commanded the Praetorian Guard, after all. And no one wanted to be thrown to the lion. 

He turned to Jonathon (also known as Tomas) and said - Ben Macabi, Judean, am I right? ..... Our leader said - Of that line, at least originally, Eminence, though with a fair admixture of Visigoth and Celt-Iberian, since I hail from what was once, your western province of Hispania, though born to this world some eight hundred and fifty years later.

Four heartbeats later he turned from Tomas (also known as Jonathon) to question Francis. And in the voice of a trained orator asked - Why are they here?.... To taste magic, my lord. To be sure, they've seen it many times in the past. Indeed, some stem from the one known as 'Papa.' - said Francis. But they've never seen the source. They know not stoic wisdom and... (Francis would have said more, but the noble Roman held up his hand, so the dapper Brit demurred).

The Great Aurelius said - I am a philosopher. Perhaps you know my 'Meditations?..... We all nodded. Who would have done otherwise?.... And he continued - A 'stoic,' such as I, strives to control passion. We value calm, clear logic. We learn from nature and do what has to be done.

Then he lapsed back into silence. We all just sat there. Annie sighed. She was bored. The emperor saw. She smiled at him. He smiled at her, revealing his small, sharp fangs...... He spoke once more and said - I sit here in this place today, because of a gift received long ago in the trans-alpine city of Vindabona (ancient Vienna). I was near death at the time and so... it was necessary.... Of course you know there are gradations... of magic, I mean. First you learn what 'is.' Then you learn to manipulate. Last comes understanding..... I suppose you could say we follow some of the Hermetic Order... but Hermes didn't know everything.

He addressed Miranda and asked - Will they be here for the spring equinox? ...... I think not, Divinity. - she said...... He pondered a moment, whispering  - Then we'll have to provide them a varied assortment of treats.... 

The emperor stood up. We all did like wise and followed him through a door into another place. I looked up and beheld the Great Dome of The Pantheon in Rome, bathed in a warm, golden light streaming in through the high, round opening, known as 'the occulus.' 

That, in itself was more than enough. But when I looked down, I saw that my friends were all children.... Sarah, Baylah,Tomas, Edith...all of them, giggling with a simple, innocent joy, each dressed in the clothes of their youth.

Only Annie, already in the body of perhaps a seven year old, remained unchanged.

And doves flew 'round our heads....

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The House on Hoxton Street.. 2/21/13 after THE REVELS, in London

Many of the properties along the way have been modernized and are essentially the same as similar residences in say Chicago or Washington. But this house was different. Yes, it was brought up to date, although the date it was brought up to was nineteen twenty five.  And that, in itself, tells us something.  Modern kitchens are not a priority for night-folks. They value deep wing chairs covered in old mohair and tall clocks almost as ancient as they are. 

This house had a library with the requisite detailed paneling... a necro-torium for intelligent magical exploration and a small, but inviting chamber of adepts used for debates and discussions. The furnishings come from the Privy Council of Schloss von Hohenstein and belonged to the sixteenth Elector, who converted to a Vampirian creed in later years and penned many respected essays on Life-Eating.

Tomas had never been to this place. Experimentation occurred elsewhere in his day, primarily tucked away in back alleys near Black Friars and the like, blending right in with the rather bohemian theatrical crowd. But for developments in contemporary space/time/matter manipulation, this was ground zero. That's what Francis said and he knows..

The ride over, bracing as it was, proved trying. Edith moaned the whole way. wilkravitz almost slid off, but Baylah grabbed him. You know dragon skin is very much like snake skin. At least in this bloodline it is. Not slimy, but dry and smooth.... a bit too smooth for those not blessed with the proper 'seat.' Miranda doesn't mind. Francis rather enjoys it, especially this one , Gold Claw,  a gift from the second son of a high born Han nobleman. The beast itself contained it's own magic. All dragons do. How else do you think they survived the Great Comet? No, they're not that old. I don't mean to imply anything like that, but, how else?... As a species, I mean....

Now there was no identifying sign or mark upon the house...nothing. In all respects it looked like a fine, impressive, three story, red brick. Georgian, or neo- Georgian residence, fit for a gentleman born and bred, or perhaps a rather astute businessman. The heavy, oaken door gleamed under a flawless gloss of dark green paint. And the knocker (polished brass) was in the form of a mermaid. I think merfolk were symbolic in the early nights of the Hermetic Order, but now it's just a tradition. 

Gold Claw was trained. She knew what to do and smoothly de-materialized as they drew up to their destination, depositing four night-folk and two mortals upon the carefully laid down, granite pavement. Yes, they were invisible while en-route. And mortal traffic passed right through them. But there was no place for her here...no stable ... no dragon harem, so she slipped back through the ether to her commodious quarters, there to await her master's call.

Francis gestured toward the door and said - Shall we? ...Then he quietly chanted a few words in Old Eastern Vahmperigo (rather like a blend of Old Slavonic with Tartar and Persian overtones) and stepped aside as the portal slowly opened.

Three heartbeats later, after carefully peering inside, the Philadelphia contingent entered. Miranda and her dapper companion followed. The door closed...

And The Emperor Marcus Aurelius came out to greet them....

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC?...POST REVEL NIGHTS IN LONDON 2/20/13

In many ways, The Hermetic Order of The Golden Dawn is only a name 'borrowed' by various associations aspiring to some form of metaphysical power and enlightenment. The true organization began over one hundred and twenty five years ago, deep within the winding lanes of late Victorian London. If you've ever seen the film, Young Sherlock, by Steven Spielberg, you've seen snippets of a distorted order centered on sacrificial violence and pseudo-Kemetic (Kemet being the true name for ancient Egypt) mythology. Well, the venue in question tonight is not like that. In truth, it goes back long before The Golden Order and even predates the Masonic and Rosicrucian brotherhoods believed to be it's source.

Those familiar with our strange kind of 'fiction' know about La Ciencia Vampirismo. Tomas has an old, handwritten copy. Sometimes he hides it deep within the Jersey Pine Barrens. Sometimes where they live. I don't know every hiding place. The title can be translated as 'the science of vampirism,' or 'the science of the vampires.' Most present day cognoscenti hold with the second interpretation.  Magic has always been there. Vampires are but one manifestation, though they tend to be true vessels of the creed... if you want to call it a creed. 

The 'Temple,' if you want to call it a temple, rests in a district just to the east of 'The City,' that old, original core dating from the Romans. Today, it's a trendy place, filled with spare and stylish galleries, artistic dining spots and luxurious  boutiques. Some claim The Ripper hid there.  But you'll just have to ask him.

Beatrice fixed toddies. Vampires enjoy hot toddies, rich with the fragrance of cinnamon and cloves. She uses rum. The Philadelphia group prefers vodka or gin, but they did not say anything. And old, seventeenth century chamber music played in the background, on a discretely positioned Bose radio.

They were waiting for Francis and Miranda, Tomas' night-folk friends from the court of The Merry Monarch. Ever see Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman in that Avengers re-make they did? Well then no further description is necessary...... Wait a minute. Sarah's giving me a dirty look. (teeth sucking noise).. How can she see me? I hide so well... a creature of the ether...been 'dead' more than two thousand years.... Yeah, hello, It's me, Zebulon. Nice to see you. I'm the pretentious thirteen year old what got hisself stoned for consorting with witches in thirty-eighth century ('first' to most of you)  Jerusalem. Pretty much the only stoning they did during that period.. Stonings were exceedingly rare. But I was the lucky one.... Now, what was I gonna say?... Oh yeah. Francis had on a slim black suit. Google the Vera Wang tuxedo. You'll see what I mean. Miranda wore one too. But her's was even slimmer. I think he did have a bowler,  just not on his head. 

When they came in, sublimating through the garden wall, Tomas smiled. Three hundred and thirty years since the last time, yet he remembered it all. Nell Gwynne was quite the hostess. Vampires don't bother much with introductions, They all possess some level of telepathy. He might have said something for wilkravitz and Edith, but even they have a certain heightened sensitivity.....

Then they all wrapped themselves in warm coats (gloves and scarves too, I might add) and walked out to join the night. 

A long, sinewy, undulating Chinese dragon waited by the curb, ebony black with golden claws. In fact, it took up most of the tiny thoroughfare. But the isolated pedestrian or two never saw it. And a man carrying a large, zipped, leather artist's portfolio walked right through the dragon's lower back and kidneys without causing the slightest stir. The 'temple' is a place of magic, you know. 

So following Francis' lead, they all climbed onto the creature's back, grabbing hold of thick, gold cords circling its body. And after the life-eater helmsman issued a clipped command in flawless Mandarin, they took off through the streets, as the snake-like steed bore them on their way.

London after midnight offers many such sights. Pity so few can see them... 

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Monday, February 18, 2013

FORTY EIGHT HOURS IN LONDON ... THE VAMPIRE REVELS..an epilogue .. 2/19/13

The fine, black Bentley arrived after sundown, depositing Tomas and company on the doorstep of a picture-book, snug, little mews house two doors to the left of number (censored) on a certain, narrow, Mayfair street known for the best 'bijou' houses in London. It's the townhouse most dream of, fifteen hundred square feet of tastefully arranged Georgian furnishings gathered from an assortment of august domiciles throughout the West End.

 Four drowsy night-folk, plus two mortal associates climbed out of the snug, darkened interior and , for a moment anyway, into the chill, violet evening. Someone inside expected them, for seconds later the red, lacquered door opened and they entered. 

A tall, woman greeted them. She said - Good evening, Don Tomas (in the classic Spanish manner), my name is Beatrice. Let me show you to your rooms.... They followed her down a tiny, brick, winding staircase to a comfortably appointed cellar, sporting original, wide plank, Regency flooring and discrete, little sleeping cubicles, rather like day-sleepers on a train and just right for discerning vampires. Tomas and Sarah took the first one, squeezing in with the driver, as he deposited their luggage. Baylah moved into the second. And Annie took the third, a nest prepared especially for her, with an assortment of children's literature from Christopher Robin to Anne of Green Gables... first editions all.

They made any necessary ablutions in a former coal bin, now a small, well equipped wash room and water closet (not for vampiric benefit, to be sure) and changed clothes before gathering upstairs in the fire lit sitting room.  Beatrice wanted to call for the car, but Tomas said they'd walk. Vampires love the cold, night air. And they were adequately dressed for the temperature. Tomas had his warm, black, leather coat. Sarah had hers. Baylah's was a faux-fox number picked up in Boyd's back home. Look, each one had what they required. Life-eaters know how to travel. And their human companions are well kept too. wilkravitz liked his hat, a genuine, British 'deerstalker,' with attached ear flaps and a soft, warm rabbit lining. Edith made do with a fine, cashmere scarf.

And so they set out... moonbeam-wanderers, upon the streets of London. Tomas had an appointment with a certain gentleman at Foster & Son, eldest bespoke footwear and leather goods in the city. Perhaps he'll take a cab? Perhaps he'll sublimate? Maybe Sarah will decide? Baylah keeps her own counsel, though I'd wager she heads for The British Museum. Vampires enjoy wandering the empty, nighttime galleries. Entrance isn't difficult. Not for them. And if she brings back a souvenir or two from the gift shop, you can be sure she'll deposit a more than adequate sum.  Edith wants some pub grub. Mayfair has the best...more in the manner of bistros or casual brasseries, but she doesn't know that. wilkravitz wants to peruse the book shops, but he'll probably join her. Maybe end up with a stroll through Chelsea, one-time borough of artists...the Dante Rossetti crowd and all that. Tomorrow night, they all meet up with vampire acquaintances for less mundane activities. Will there be a feeding? Well, I really can't say. Disembodied spirits are not always privy to everything...... Oh, yes...'Annie,'..... Beatrice is taking her to a venerable, little toy shop, where they've promised to let her bite the toes off a specially chosen assortment of dolls....It's a 'thing' with her. Some of you know that.

But if this night is ordinary, the night-to-come belongs to The Hermetical Order of the Golden Dawn, an old, arcane, enchanted group given to other-worldly investigations and certain spiritual activities.... 

For those of you who like being prepared, do some homework. Read 'Bohemia In London,' (1907) by Arthur Ransome . It's there, hidden away on those little magical devices you all have. Google it..... 

Did I say it right?

Now permit me to leave, for I've friends in The Tower....

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

We'll Meet Again. Don't Know Where. Don't Know When .. THE VAMPIRE REVELS 2/18/13

A few of the mortals left early. Cars came and took them away. I think they were glad to depart. Some humans take to the vampires and come back frequently. They like the talk. They like the atmosphere. It's probably therapy for them. Maybe they want to kill? But most never come back. Most try and forget.  The movie industry contingent is like that. Some think it's the thing to do, so they come. Buy a whole bunch of somber black outfits. Not just black. Some buy dark violet, gray, or hunter green too. Nice suede boots. This is just a diversion for them. 

Those souls left are all down in the great hall. 'King' Rafe gives a talk. It's his thing. Really like a gimmick. He has this ability to cause a 'voice' to spring forth from the ether through a point just in front of his face. Sometimes he sits there with a grin. Sometimes he's expressionless. But the voice always has a muffled, distant, metallic sound to it. Makes people feel cold. But they listen, because he's rich in years and exceptionally powerful. Not like Papa, or, dare I say, the Lady Renate, yet strong enough.  And it never makes sense. More like talking in tongues. Some say it's a seminal dialect of Vahmperigo, akin to ancient Basque.  But they're just guessing. One year he 'said' 'Klactu borada nicto' over and over for perhaps three thousand, two hundred and forty heartbeats. Vampires just sat there, staring into space, afraid to move. Once he transformed a supposedly disrespectful vampirino into an earthworm. No, not an earthworm. A blood-worm, I think it was. And he never brought him back. So now he exists, crawling through the mud, for all eternity, or whatever does actually constitute eternity in el mundo vampirido. I don't know what he's mumbling. sometimes it sounds like a prayer. But I don't know who he's praying to.

The space is dark. Not all dark, but almost. The fires are banked down. A headless, female harpist provides soft, harmonious chords in the shadows. No, this one is not the same one as Tomas and Sarah had upstairs, I believe he has a few of them.... captured daughters of a long dead king. Don't know where he keeps the heads. 

But it's like he's commanding some poor, impressionable life-eater to come forth for a 'release.' 'King' Rafe likes a good sublimation, he does.  Some try to melt back into the shadows, only that's impossible, because the dogs are here. The huge hounds silently pad 'round, pausing in front of whoever tries to be most inconspicuous. So most just sit there, breathing evenly and waiting for it to be over. 

A lone vampirino from Croatia clears his throat. Vampires don't get phlegm, so they know he wants to speak. Then he says three words --- I seek release... 'King' Rafe positively  claps and giggles like a little girl, as a tongueless functionary takes the 'young' man's hand and leads him toward destruction. 

He stands inside the inlaid, bronze circle and looks down. 'King' Rafe says - Who frees this soul?...And another vampirino of indeterminate nationality, stands up . All eyes fall upon him, as he scrapes back his chair and walks toward the spot, never slowing, never hesitating, nor swerving to the left, or to the right. Then he locks eyes with the victim, whispers 'Forgive me,' and sublimates right through him. 

Now, as Mister Never-you-Mind said last night, the one doing the walking cuts the still and quiet one to shreds. I don't know why the magic works that way. But it does. Fortunately, the vampirino of indeterminate nationality was a big man, so no part of the 'young' Croatian remained intact. And his body held its form for perhaps six heartbeats, before raining down onto the cold stones. 

'King' Rafe went - 'Awwwww.' But all could tell he was quite pleased.  No one moved, as the dogs lapped up the mess.

Then drinks were served. Icy, thick bottomed, glasses of Grey Goose, I think it was. They switch it up. The headless, long dead king's daughter played a song.... 'We'll meet again. Don't know where. Don't know when. But I know we'll meet again, some sunny day.' .... 

After that it was over and everyone prepared to leave.  Annie stayed close to Tomas. She whispered - I don't think I like these vampires..... Tomas kissed the top of her head and guided her out through the commodious vestabule and toward the waiting limousine. Sarah, Baylah, Edith and wilkravitz followed.

All their things were already stowed inside and so they left. No one said much, as they slid through the cold, North country night, on the road to London.

Other night-folk did the same, leaving 'King' Rafe all alone. The hearths were cold. The wide expanse was dark, save for weak and silvery beams dancing in through small clerestory windows set high up, under the eaves.

And he threw out his arms and danced, til all the enchanted furnishings and what-nots, conjured especially for THE REVELS evaporated into the gloom and disappeared. 

After that, he simply walked into the ether and vanished. I don't know what happened to the tongueless functionaries. I really don't. 

But the old, great, venerable 'house' went back to its ruined state and slept. 

While somewhere up above, a lonely harp still played..

Adieu, from THE VAMPIRE REVELS...

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

LEFTOVER CATTLE-PEOPLE.. THE VAMPIRE REVELS 2/17/13

People got quiet. They wandered around the castle looking in all the old rooms. Some read ancient tomes in the library. 'King' Rafe has a big collection of ancient Vahmperigo (vampire dialect) works. Just in case you don't know, 'To Serve Man' is more or less a cook book. I think it goes back to Byzantine times. 

A few went skating on the pond. Some slaughtered left-over cattle-people. They had like a rodeo...like The Calgary Stampede. Couple Canadian life-eaters organized that. Annie went. Tomas and Sarah didn't want her to, but Larry was going and people said the dealers in Russia were only gonna sell 'em for dog food anyway... No, not dog food... cat food. I got confused. She dressed up like a cowgirl. Wonder if there ever was any real cowgirls? Baylah took her to this big store they had down the road. Like a TARGET or a CAREFOUR or something. They stay open til eleven o'clock, so it was OK. Baylah says let her learn what it's like. Let her see if she wants to wind up a 'noxious.' But Tomas is afraid that's exactly what she wants.  

Did it all out in the 'close.'  Let 'em run 'free.' Poor bastards. Imagine, they saw Tomas redeem some a them. But they didn't make the cut. Then they think they're gonna be cat food, only now it's bronco-time. Vampires were swoopin' down from the battlements yellin' Kai-Yai-Yippie-Yippie-Yay... But they don't know what cowboy supposed a be like, 'cause some a them got Davey Crockett hats on and that's all wrong. Gave 'em branding irons. Tongueless functionaries kept 'em hot. Each vampire get a different one. First they burnin' up cattle-people's butt cheeks. Then they look at all the ass welts and separate 'em so no vampire gets gypped. Each one gets to kill the ones they marked. Annie, bein' puny-like only got three, but two were real fat, so she was satisfied. A few God damned vultures went crazy. 'King' Rafe was laughing and laughing. then he go all catatonic again. 

Human guests get buffet too. Give 'em all the crap what's left over.... dried up rib eye. Gluey mac and cheese. Think it got some 'rubber' bacon in it too. Shrimp so old it taste like pee- pee. Nobody ask no questions though. They all busy trading 'links' and makin' like they love each other. Hollywood contingent snatchin' all the goody bags. Few a them get little vials a vampire blood, but just a few. You can tell who they are. Just look real close. Got mugs like Jack Nicholson when he the 'Joker,' only not made up so nice.

They still cleanin' up from the rodeo. Couple real ugly people still left, 'cause nobody want a bite 'em. Gonna donate 'em to a home for blind vampires. What they know?

Ain't had no vampire-suicide-sublimation yet. Wait'll they get drunk. It'll happen. 

Tomas, Sarah and most a the other real 'noble' ones in the scriptorium, playin' Yahtzee. They can hear some a the noise, but they pretend like they don't. He did call (Tomas, I mean) some made to order shoe guy in London. Wanna get some more trim, black, leather bootkins. You know how he is for shoes....

Edith and wilkravitz lookin' for souvenirs. She found this old, brown skull under a chair in some sitting room. Don't know who it belong to. Skull won't say. Other one, wilkravitz, gettin' phone numbers from people what say they big time promoters and agents. Got a diamond ring he saw layin' on the rug in the hallway. Baylah says it a cubic zirconium. But Tomas says he'll have one of his 'familiars' evaluate it when they get back home.

Look, #SNL over now, so why you not round up your friends and get 'em to read this? 

Mister Never-You-Mind wanna go say goodbye to some ghosts...

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LAST RITES... THE VAMPIRE REVELS.. 2/16/13

Tomas and Sarah walked over the hills, under a chalk white moon and twinkling stars. Words were few. They just weren't necessary. She held his hand and she knew. She felt his soul and tasted each emotion. He liked his life. He valued his purpose. Tomas missed Philadelphia and wanted to go back. Yes, they might pass through The City. They might go to London. But only for a night or two. 

He missed the narrow cobbled lanes of Society Hill, Queens Village, Old City and all that. He missed the quiet churchyards filled with cool, gray stones.. True, London had such places... very similar places. And it was once his home. Perhaps that's why Philadelphia felt so right? It was built to be the New World London, after all. The huge clock tower atop City Hall. The small antique shops on Pine Street. The tea room in The Wanamaker Building. Even the street accents in some districts. Ever hear how they say bee-yoo-tee-ful? A true Cockney could do no better.

They passed through ghosts and other things. Most pretended not to notice, though one or two said hello.... a child, a little girl exposed to the cold in Druid times, asked their names.... an old man minus half a skull told jokes. He wanted to know by what means they kept their flesh. Sarah told him they were life-eaters...they were vampires. But he was unfamiliar with the breed and so he wandered on.

Baylah helped Annie dress for 'Last Dance.' She brushed her hair and sprayed in an aerosol 'thickener.' It apparently works on vampire hair too. She should write them. Maybe they'll put that on the label? And the headless, female harpist plucked away in the shadows. I believe it was 'Old Man River.' The sad creature had quite a large repertoire.  Annie talked to her from time to time. She was curious. She wanted to know what the strange thing was. But the fleshly automaton never responded in any way. She could have gestured, or maybe even answered with music. But she did not. Baylah thought she was primarily a magical construct, layered over some convenient, brainless corpse.... like a puppet, preserved and dead... 

After 'Old Man River,' she went into 'Eleanor Rigby.' That sounded nice. 

'Last Dance' was special. They had a promenade. They danced a Stompanada. Every once in a while some vampire came forth to 'testify,' asking for release. And that was provided, usually via a sublimation. The petitioning party dressed accordingly, sometimes in their finest, occasionally in plainer clothes. Few came naked. It just seemed too vulnerable.  When it was time they stood in the circle, an inlaid, old bronze ring, created many years ago, waiting for their 'savior' to appear. After a few heartbeats, for prayer and the like (funny, but even the 'noxious' prayed) the savior came forth, walking straight toward the waiting soul in the center. Never slowing. Never hesitating. Never turning, til they passed right through them.... That was it. Very quick. Very simple. 

The body in movement is not harmed. But the body at rest is destroyed. Every particle of the sublimating entity cuts through the stationary soul like a tiny, razor sharp, obsidian knife.... For a moment, the 'victim' stands there. The form remains intact. But then blood runs forth from an infinity of cuts, til the stationary body disappears, cascading down onto the old, stone surface in a fast, red torrent. Even the bones disappear. .... Now so there not be any piece of skull, or hand, or foot, or torso 'living' passed 'the act,' larger people usually sublimate through smaller individuals. That usually works. Dogs come out to lick up all the blood. There's no cleansing blue flame. That does not happen in instances like this. And, no, the dogs don't become vampire dogs. At least I don't think so.

Maybe we'll see one tonight? Then we'll know. Big dogs... they use big dogs, like Irish Wolfhounds. 

But watch their eyes, if such a thing takes place. You'll never see dogs with eyes like that again.....

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