Tuesday, October 20, 2015


a continuation of our 10/18/15 post-----

Vampires were a known 'commodity' in Old Russia. They'd been bringing them up since Byzantine times and from the Ottomans after that. Indeed, up till Soviet times, the Black Sea city of Odessa, quite a cosmopolitan place and in feeling more akin to Italy or Greece than Romonov lands, maintained a brisk trade in night-folk and other exotics.

Among the Turks, most had the status of slaves, but very pampered slaves, under the protection of great pashas and beys who used them to dispatch enemies and kill revolutionaries. Long time readers are familiar with that, since we've highlighted the famed vampire-training-academies of Topkapi before. The imperial palace, actually a series of jewel-box residences, pleasure domes and administrative offices contained many strange installations. Some far more unusual than a night-folk school. One evening we'll tell you about the flesh sculptors, who created freaks for noble collectors and sold them all over Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. What a sad business that was. And yes, it is possible to create a 'chicken woman,' or a 'chicken man.'

Elaina Buhkovina, our vampire-ballerina, fell under the tutelage of a French vampirina and a Turkish import. French expatriates wound up in Russia all the time, Italians too. They were viewed as international sophisticates. Many of the women became ladies in waiting to the Czaritzas and the males often served as imperial advisors in such matters as architecture, viniculture, foreign finance and military training. You see, for those with breeding and money, Russia was an opulent, worldly playground. But for the subjugated classes, for they whose very names had no meaning, life was endless toil. Oh, there was a small business class. In the eighteenth century most entrepreneurs were sons of former aristocratic servants or semi-acknowledged, 'illegitimate' offspring of the selfsame class. Most other souls were serfs, or ostensibly 'free' peasants (especially in 'Little Russia') with superficial rights that did not really mean very much, for any boyar (noble) could crush them, if he so wished.

One evening the two vampirinas, the one's who tutored Elaina, attended a little recital at the ecole du ballet in the Winter Palace. They were very well known, since they'd done this thing before. When the French one presented the dancing mistress a letter from Prince Usipov (an early progenitor of our own Russian, vampire oligarch, Grigori Usipov) directing her to give the exotic duo a girl they might instruct, her gaze fell on little Elaina, for she already had a dreamy air and her baba was reputed to be a witch.

Now the vampire lessons took place on Saturdays and Sundays, since there was no dance school then. A man came for her. He was a retired member of the constabulary and still wore the old, blue coat with the silver buttons. Every Friday afternoon he'd rap on the door, wait for Elaina to exit, take her hand and walk with her to the place where the vampirinas lived, a strange, narrow, though well set up residence on a skinny, little street behind  Perfumery Lane.

They'd already set her to a task... not exactly blood-drinker oriented, but designed to foster her hunting instincts and a willingness to kill. She was their 'mouser,' charged with keeping the place free of unwelcome tiny guests. They gave her what looked like a small baseball bat, an old little shovel and set her to it. At first she cried, but it soon became a game... two kopecks a head... And they expected to see heads. That's what the rusty sharp edge of the shovel was for....

'Kitty,' they called her Kitty, for she was just like a little cat...

And so it began.....

<more next time>


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