Beyond Dracula: A Brief Look at Vampires and Vampirism

Now, before I go into any detail, let me make one point very clear (because I get asked this question repeatedly): Yes, I do believe in the existence of vampires.  What I do NOT believe in are the concoctions of fiction spawned by old cinematic special effects.  Having said that, let’s first examine what a vampire is.

Vampires, by all historical accounts, fall into one of two categories: the Living, and the Revenant (dead).  Living vampires have never been dead.  They’re most likely not going to be harmed by anything WE wouldn’t be harmed by.  They can be super-fast, and super-strong, but they’re certainly not going to be turning into sand, bats, rats, or what-have-you.  The most common type of Living vampire is known as a Psychic Vampire.  Some psychic vampires don’t even know they ARE vampires.  These people feed off of the energy of others, leaving them emotionally, mentally, and spiritually drained.  Have you ever been around someone, and when you left, you just felt like you needed to go home and sleep for 24 hours?  If this happens repeatedly with the same person, chances are good that person may be a psychic vampire.  These are, by far, not the only Living vampires, but they are the most prevalent.  There are Living vampires who drink blood, as well (though why, no one is certain.  The live human stomach is full of acids that break down and render blood useless), and even some types of cannibals fall under the category of Living Vampire.  Contrary to some belief, vampires are not categorized solely by whether or not they drink blood.  They are categorized by the fact that an encounter with one leaves you missing some vital bodily force, whether that be energy, blood, or flesh.

Fiction’s more common vampiric friends and fiends are the Revenant, or Risen, vampires.  These are the corpses of people (and animals) who have died.  Contrary to most popular fiction, being bit by a vampire will not instantly turn you into one, and nor will drinking their blood.  By historical accounts, turning into a Revenant vampire has more to do with the manner of your death and burial than it does ever encountering another vampire.  A violent death, leading to a desire for blood vengeance, or an improper burial can cause a body to rise as a vampire.  Yes, being drained by a vampire can kill you, and perhaps even instill that need for vengeance, but the concept of being bitten and becoming a vampire are not mutually exclusive.  Also, drinking a vampire’s blood isn’t likely to do much (see above where I referenced blood in the living human stomach), and though transfusion of vampire blood might, in theory, turn someone, there is no evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, to support this (there are no documented cases, since the development of blood transfusion, that note any vampiric tendencies after a transfusion).  Another point that’s supported by historical evidence is that vampires are not confined merely to the physical plane.  There are vampiric entities and spirits which are not corporeal (physically present) on our plane.  They often behave in a manner similar to ghosts, except that they drain spiritual/physical energy from their victims.  These often fall into the “vengeance” category of the Revenant vampire.

If you are interested in finding out more about vampires, please check back for information on my webinar “Beyond Dracula: Myths and Evidence of Vampirism in History and the Modern Age”

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“Deals with the Devil” – Excerpt from BODY OF EVIDENCE (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow)

BoEWhat happens when you bring together the best independent forensic lab in the country, one of the leading pathologists and criminal profilers in the world, and a Federal agent with a very unique skill set, and a gun loaded with Slayer bullets?

Welcome to Witch Hollow!

When kidnapping turns to murder, the hunt could turn from dangerous to deadly for Dr. Faith MacKenzie and her team. A four-year-old cold serial kidnapping cold case is red-hot again, with fresh bodies turning up at a ten-year-old crime scene, and the daughter of a wealthy Witch Hollow family is abducted in broad daylight. Now, time is running out for Elizabeth Prescott, and the price of failure could also mean the life of a man Faith’s partner seems strangely determined is innocent.

“Deals with the Devil” — Excerpt from BODY OF EVIDENCE (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow, Book 6) —

Faith pushed open the heavy, steel door to the abandoned garage warily, shining her flashlight into the dark interior. Her heart thudded harshly against her ribs, and she struggled to keep her breathing slow and even. She knew coming here alone wasn’t a smart idea, but she didn’t have a choice. She didn’t run the statistics for survival in her head – she didn’t want to know how much danger she was in.

“Hello?” She called into the darkness, uncertain who she was supposed to meet, or what she’d find, here. She didn’t want to think she’d been lured her to discover Elizabeth Prescott’s dead body any more than she wanted to contemplate whether she was walking into her own death. She had to stay focused on what she did know, and the only clue she had was that someone claimed to know what happened to Elizabeth.

No one answered her, and Faith steeled herself, then pushed the door open even further, until the sparse street lights filtered into the building ahead of her. Then, with a resolute breath, Faith took a cautious step inside the building, swinging her flashlight in a wide arc, illuminating empty garage bays full of stagnant, algae-filled water, stacks of tires that looked like they’d been slowly rotting away since Katrina, and electrical fixtures that could probably double as electrocution devices, if there was even still a current running to them. Hisses and chittering noises in the dark told her the only inhabitants were probably local wildlife – none of which she was particularly wild about meeting – though an eerie sense she wasn’t alone crawled along her spine.

“Anyone here?”

“Are you alone?” Rasped a breathy voice from the shadows beyond where Faith’s flashlight could reach, sending another shiver down her spine. She was reminded of the Prescott crypt, and the strange, ominous presence of Marie Prescott.

“Yes,” she managed, careful to keep her voice calm and unafraid. She needed to keep the upper hand, and that meant showing no fear.

“Good.” The voice, stronger and deeper, suddenly came from directly behind her, and the heavy door slammed shut. Faith jumped, her self-reminder about showing no fear fleeing as a shadow loomed over her, and her flashlight went out, plunging the room into pitch dark. Then, before she could draw another breath – never mind move – a large hand closed around her throat, and she was tossed across the room, to bounce off a stack of tires and drop to the floor with enough force her head impacted the concrete, and the darkness swam before her eyes, closing in around her with suffocating speed. As heavy, rubber objects – the tires, most likely – pelted down on her, drawing groans of pain with each impact, one final thought sparked through her mind. At least she slipped Jonathan the note. Even if she died here, someone would find her. Jonathan would avenge her.

“Accidental Vampire” – Excerpt from CRIMSON ROSE (Project Prometheus)

Project Prometheus BadgeGeronimo Black and Claire Vernaud are two of my more unusual Prometheans. While most of my Prometheans are as normally human as you and I, Gerry and Claire have unusual traits, for human beings. One of them was born with a rare variety of an unusual condition, and the other was transformed by a difficult and dangerous event.

 

“Accidental Vampire” – Excerpt from CRIMSON ROSE (Project Prometheus)

“You are a vampire.”

She sounded  skeptical.  Hell, she looked skeptical.  Geronimo sighed. No one ever said this confession stuff was easy.  Might as well bite the bullet.  “Yeah.”

Claire rolled her eyes.  “And you cannot come up with a better lie than that?”

“It’s not a lie!”

Juste.  A vampire who walks in daylight.”  She threw up her hands in disgust.  “Now I have heard everything!”

The problem dawned on Gerry, then, and he cursed beneath his breath.  This wasn’t about her not believing in vampires.  This was about what she believed about them.  A dark smile tugged his lips.

“There’s more than one kind of vampire, Claire.”

One slim, blond brow lifted.  She still looked unconvinced.  “C’est fait?  I have not heard of vampires who are not…how would you say? Allergic to sunlight.”

He leaned against the tree, following her restless motions as she paced in a tight circle.  “You’ve got Hollywood brainwashing, is what you’ve got.  Nosferatu can be killed by sunlight, supposedly.  They’re essentially dead, anyway, which I guess makes them susceptible.  I am not, and nor have I ever been, dead.  In fact, I’ve never met a Nosferatu.”

She whipped about to face him.  “Then how–?”

This was more difficult.  “About ten years ago, I was investigating a chemical weapons facility as part of a team like START.  I assume you’ve heard of them?”

She nodded.

“Yeah, well, some people aren’t as accommodating as the Russians were.  The entire team stumbled into an unshielded nuclear site.  Radiation poisoning killed everyone else on the team.  Somehow, I got lucky.”  He couldn’t keep the scornful irony out of his voice if he tried, so he didn’t.  “My blood was irradiated.  The doctors never saw anything like it, before, and they weren’t sure what to do with me.  They figured they could treat it like leukemia.  Just give me a bone marrow transplant and new blood.”

“It did not work?”

“Hell, no.”  He ran a hand through his hair.  “Some kind of mutation had already taken place, and the new blood just kept dying.  Even worse, I was drained all the time, so tired it took more effort than I had just to lift my arm.”

She looked curious now, and at least she was listening again.  “How did they fix it?”

“They never really did.  Matt found someone who’d developed a serum that slows the rate of blood death, and allows me to function longer without a transfusion, but I still need blood.  And I need energy, which I get by feeding off the energy of others.  A psychic vampire.”

The tip of her tongue darted over her lips, and her eyes telegraphed nerves her expression didn’t otherwise show.  “And how do you… feed?”

Hunger and humor blended in him as he watched that tongue move.  This probably went way beyond what she was ready to accept about their partnership.  His desire for her certainly did.  “Blood or energy?”

“B-both.”

He pushed off from the tree, ate up the space between them in a single, fluid motion.  “I get normal blood transfusions.  Drinking blood would be useless.  It just breaks down in the stomach.  As for energy,” he closed the distance until even a breath wouldn’t fit between them.  Hunger churned in him as he stared down into her emerald eyes.  Slowly, he dipped his head and brushed his lips across hers, causing her eyes to widen as she sucked in a surprised breath.  His lips tugged up in a seductive smile.  “I’m afraid I’d have to show you.”

“A Dangerous Kind of Help” – Excerpt from DOUBLE TAKE (Guardians, Inc)

01 Double Take

 

 

Jesse Guardian did his best to stay out of the family business for years. Aware of the Para, but choosing to work in the “real world,” he stuck to evidence he could see, and crimes he could prevent or solve, as a homicide detective for the San Francisco PD. But when his love affair with an intoxicatingly mysterious woman turned out to be a trap, the intervention of one man would change Jesse’s life forever. As he struggles with the monster he doesn’t want to become, he’ll turn to the family he avoided, and find himself in a struggle to save more than his mortal soul.

 

“A Dangerous Kind of Help” – Excerpt from DOUBLE TAKE (Guardians, Inc, Book #1) –

He paused in his office doorway, not sure if he was more surprised that Analeise was talking to thin air, or that she was actually there. His wry glance passed over the clutter of books that hadn’t been there when he left, either. Apparently, she raided Jason’s archives. Wonder if Jason knew.

Damn it!” The sudden oath, punctuated by the sharp sound of flesh striking wood as she slapped the desk – hard – snapped Jesse from his musing. She looked pissed, and the furious light in her eyes shouldn’t turn him on, but damned if it did. Lust surged toward his groin, and he stifled his groan only through sheer force of will. So he had a thing for bad girls. No surprise there; Natalya had been as bad as they come, and he fell head-over-heels for her.

Jesse heaved a silent snort of disgust. Natalya should be all the warning he needed to stay away from Analeise. Tangling with another bad girl was liable to get him killed, even if that was more difficult these days. His eyes fixed back on her, and the rush of heat was instantaneous at the memory of her hot, welcoming body and eager responses. Both heat and memory were expected, though neither was appreciated. Still, it was the tiny twist in his gut at the layer of vulnerability beneath that anger that bothered him most. She looked innocent, and that was such a contradiction he wanted to grin, but his swollen, split lip protested the attempt, and he hissed in pain.

Analeise’s head jerked up, a gasp of surprise flying from her, and she stared at him as if he was a ghost. The irony of it was, without Victor, he would be – twice, now. He uttered a bitter laugh, but it ended on a groan as his bruised ribs protested. Good thing he was a fast healer, these days. A year ago, a beating like that would have laid him out for a good week, if he survived it. Now, a good night’s rest, and he’d be right as rain, as he mother put it; or, as right as a man under a vampire’s curse could be, anyway.

“You’re bleeding!” He didn’t realize she moved, but her hand was suddenly there, a cotton handkerchief in it, pressed against his mouth. He jerked away with a surprised hiss as the thrum of the pulse in her wrist filled his ears.

Goddammit! Jesse clamped down on the impulse that urged him to take her arm, and sink his teeth into her soft, warm flesh. Strong as the urge was, he wasn’t an idiot. He knew the ritual of Turning – he burned it into his brain those first few months after Victor’s impromptu gift, terrified he had no choice but to become a monster. He couldn’t begin to describe his relief when he discovered that wasn’t true.

Turnings were elaborate rituals, full of ceremony and magic. At least, most of the time. Problem was, there was no recorded precedent, no history for cases like his, where a vampire essentially gave a life-saving transfusion. It just wasn’t done. The closest Jesse could find, in a year of desperate searching, was the mention of a young girl from the fourteenth century who was miraculously restored to health after a terrible fall, by a nameless traveler. Unfortunately, the story didn’t leave him with much hope. By the account, later the same year the girl accidentally swallowed some blood while tending to an injured family member, and became an unnatural creature. She was eventually burned as a witch, for her thirst for human blood. Jesse’s stomach had plummeted after reading that. One taste was all it took to Turn her. One accident. How many bloody scenes did a cop – particularly a homicide detective – see in a week? Too many. So he quit the force, unwilling to take that chance. Not that it mattered, now. Whenever his adrenaline surged, the urges were there. He feared it was only a matter of time.

No. He dragged his mind from the thought with a shudder. It wouldn’t happen. Not to him. Jesse Guardian would not become a damned monster. Hell, he was probably damned anyway, but at least he could still make a conscious choice. He could choose to avoid temptation, to not take that first taste. He could choose to avoid the subtle scent, the rich, sweet wine of blood, the siren pulse of life…

He yanked his mind from the thought with a muttered oath. He wasn’t about to go that route, damn it all. Especially not with this woman; she already fascinated him too much. He blinked, and found her watching him with worried mocha eyes. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” he rasped, and focused beyond her, on the desk where she’d been sitting when he came in. “What are you doing here?”

Her brows knit as she backed off a step, and her dark eyes searched his face. “Helping you. I think you should go to the hospital and–”

“I’m fine,” he repeated sharply, with one upraised hand when she would have continued her protest. “Really. And I didn’t expect you to stay here all night.”

That flash of vulnerability was back, and something else that tugged him toward her like an invisible guide wire. She met his gaze, and the smoky quality of her eyes sucked the breath from him. Her tongue darted over those lush lips, and he could barely focus on the words that followed, through the lust roaring in his ears. “I… I wanted to help.”

“Help?” Was that croak really his voice? He swallowed hard, even as a hundred images of how she could help him right this moment cascaded through his mind.

Look for this and other Guardians, Inc. books, coming from Esther Mitchell and FyrRose Productions, in 2015!

“Bloodsucker” — Excerpt from DOUBLE TAKE (Guardians, Inc.)

01 Double Take

I’ve been researching the paranormal from a scientific standpoint for going on twenty-five years, and as such, I’m constantly irritated by the lack of research I see in both Hollywood and the publishing industry, when it comes to the paranormal. Writers (both screen and novel) who are too lazy or unconcerned to do the research, and rely on old tropes that have little to nothing to do with what is physically possible, or what is anecdotally in evidence, through either history or mythology.

Tired of vampires who turn to ash in the sun, swarms of rats at will, or sparkle, and sick of the Hollywood stereotypes that pervade modern fiction when it comes to the paranormal, two decades ago, I set out to provide a very different viewpoint — a series in which science, the real world, and the paranormal collide.  Here’s an excerpt from this series, taking the paranormal out of Hollywood, and bringing it back to the original myths and legends spawned by thousands of years of folklore.

Enjoy!

“Bloodsucker” – Excerpted from DOUBLE TAKE (Guardians, Inc., Book #1) —

“You need blood.”  Analeise pushed up her sleeve and shoved her bare arm into his face.  “Take mine.”

Her pulse was a rapid flutter of fear.  Jesse scowled at her.  “What are you doing?”

“You need to feed—”

“I’m not a damned vampire!”  He snarled at her, and watched her shift backward in fear, her eyes wide and her breathing ragged.  Then her shoulders straightened, and she moved deliberately forward.  He glared at her.  “And even if I was, I sure as hell wouldn’t be getting blood that way.”

“I-I don’t understand…”

He rolled his head, aching like hell now that the potion was finally transmuting the poison in his system. That had been too close a call.  “Living vampires can’t drink blood, Ana.  It just breaks down in the stomach like any other protein source.”

Her stunned expression would have been funny, if his head didn’t feel like it was about to explode.  “Then how…?”

Dark humor curled his lips. He wondered that, himself, right after he found out the man who saved his life was a vampire.  The more he discovered, the less he wanted to be one of them.  “They inject it.  Living vampires only need a small amount of blood to feed the vampiric cells in their bodies.  They still have their own blood; it’s just been changed.”

“But the biting –“

“Mostly Revenants, and it almost never has anything to do with a search for food.  It’s usually an instinct driven by rage or revenge.  And yes, Living vampires can bite, as well.  Their bite releases a paralytic agent in their saliva into the victims.”

She nodded, as if she expected this.  “The vampire’s kiss.”

He winced, his hand raising to the scar on his neck as he remembered.  He’d beg to differ on the kiss part – there was no pleasure in the sensation.  It was a terrifying experience to be incapable of movement while a sinister killer feasted on your blood or flesh, or both.  He shuddered.  “It’s how they keep the victim immobile.”

Jesse struggled up, trying to regain his feet.  Before he made it the whole way to standing, Analeise was there, inserting herself beneath his arm to help lever him up from the floor.  “For a man who denies being a vampire, you sure know a lot about them.”

“Research,” he muttered, then groaned as a fresh wave of pain rushed through his side, and the coldness seeped further into his body.  Shit.  He was running out of time.

“Midnight at the Mausoleum” — Excerpt from BODY OF EVIDENCE (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow)

Typically, I don’t write series in order, per se. I draft all the story packets (my ideas, laid out in a general chapter-by-chapter format) in the beginning, but I will fill in scenes as they come to me, then make changes accordingly as I fine-tune, for the series. Guardians, Inc. and Witch Hollow have definitely fit that mold.

Lately, I’ve been working on Witch Hollow’s 6th book, BODY OF EVIDENCE…

What’s a pathologist to do when the body parts believed to be from the same victim instead turn out to be from a dozen different victims? Add in a missing girl from a wealthy family, abducted in a similar manner as all the other victims, and a man with a very dark family secret to keep, and Faith MacKenzie and her Bunker crew have their work cut out for them. And when the missing girl’s trail takes Faith and Jonathan into the dark underside of New Orleans’ paranormal community, it may just turn out to be more than Faith can handle.

“Midnight at the Mausoleum” – Excerpt from BODY OF EVIDENCE (Guardians, Inc: Witch Hollow, Book 6) —

“So, are you going to tell me what we’re doing in the middle of a cemetery, in the middle of the night?” Faith cast a glance his way. “This isn’t how I usually exhume a body.”

He quirked her a wry half-grin she could barely see by the light of her flashlight. “We’re not exhuming anyone. And this is the only way we get in. Max’s relatives are a little… eccentric.”

Her brows lifted, and she fought down the urge to swear. Why hadn’t she seen this coming? “This is another one of your little ghost hunt things, isn’t it? Jonathan…”

“No. Just trust me, okay, Mac? If we’ve got any hope of finding Elizabeth alive, we have to use every resource at our disposal. You need to try and keep an open mind, here.” He turned to pin her with an intense stare made all the more unsettling by the night-draped cemetery around them. “And stay close to me. No wandering off. And, Mac? Don’t touch anything.”

She rolled her eyes, and forced a laugh. “You make it sound like we’re walking into a minefield.”

He didn’t laugh, and his somber expression didn’t so much as flicker. “I’m serious, Mac. You stick to me like glue, and don’t touch a thing, or this is going to end very badly for both of us.”

Something about his tone… Faith swallowed hard as sudden fear closed around her throat. Her voice rasped when she finally managed, “Just who are these people?”

He sighed, and resumed walking. “Vampires.”

Her feet felt frozen in place, disbelief ricocheting through her, before she forced herself to start moving again. He’d pulled some strange ones, in their time as partners, but this took the cake. “Vampires? Really, Jonathan…”

“Very traditional ones. Old World. They like their theatrics.” He stopped, looking up at an imposing mausoleum. “We’re here. Remember what I said, Mac.”

She swallowed again. “Close. Don’t touch. Gotcha.”

And, as Jonathan slowly pushed open the heavy, weathered door to the crypt, Faith tried to force her pulse steady. It was getting more and more difficult to dismiss Jonathan’s world as non-existent. If only she knew what she was getting herself into…

“The Devil You Know” – Excerpt from DOUBLE TAKE (Guardians, Inc)

Meet one of the most interesting supporting characters I’ve ever written (I will neither confirm nor deny, at this point, whether or not he’s a villain…:D… You’ll have to read the book when it comes out, to find that out!)…

Victorien “Victor” Da Silva is my response to the over prevalence of totally unrealistic, “sexy” and completely irrelevant vampires that permeate the fiction market, today. He’s a 700-year-old Living Vampire (yes, there’s actually a distinction between Living and Revenant (undead) vampires) who is a powerful man, unapologetic about it, and yet, he sticks very strictly to the Covenant established that keeps the Para (paranormal creature/entity) community safely under the radar of most of the rest of the world. He’s got his own set of rules, and they have very little to do with our modern world. They are, instead, drawn from the world in which he Turned (not “was turned”… there’s a misnomer involved in that whole terminology), 700 years ago. And his slightly skewed, borderline sociopathic ethics bring him into constant conflict with the person he sees as his protégé (even if Jesse refuses to accept or acknowledge) over the rules.

I really love Victor. 🙂 Hope you do, too…

 

“The Devil You Know” — Excerpt from DOUBLE TAKE (Guardians, Inc, Book 1) —

“Damn it, Victor.  You know the rules.”

The chair behind the wide mahogany desk spun around to reveal a compact, square-featured man with the outward appearance of about sixty and the regal bearing that came with a long-forgotten aristocracy.  Jesse knew age was as much a façade as Victor’s apparent interest in politics.  A seven-hundred-year-old vampire wasn’t the slightest bit concerned with government.  He’d lived long enough to see it overthrown before.

“Jesse, my dear boy!”  Victorien Da Silva smiled, but it was cool and cordial.  Nothing more.  “Your mother would be appalled.  Don’t you knock?”

Jesse scowled.  He didn’t need the reminder Victor knew his mother.  He’d been playing this particular game too long.  “Daisy Claussen, Victor.”

“Definitely not your mother.”

“Leave my mother out of this, Victor.”  Jesse stalked up to plant his hands on the vampire’s desk.  He noted the disapproval in Victor’s frown, and laughed darkly.  “Tell me about Daisy Claussen.”

Blandly unconcerned pitch-black eyes lifted to Jesse’s.  “Who?”

“Don’t give me that shit, Victor.  You never stalk a victim you don’t know inside-out.”

“I prefer to call them lady friends.”

“Call them the Holy Mother, for all I care,” Jesse ground out.  “But start talking.”

Victor leaned back with a sigh of contentment, his expression unbothered.  “We know each other so well, don’t we, Jesse?”

As he watched Victor knowingly tap his own forearm, Jesse scowled.  He didn’t need reminded Victor saved his life, or how.

“Don’t even think about it.”  Jesse backed off a step and nudged aside his jacket to reveal his sidearm.  “You know what kind of ammo I’m packing.  Don’t give me a reason to use it.”

Cold humor danced in Victor’s eyes.  They both knew that, blessed or not, no bullet would stop Victor for long.  “Wouldn’t dream of it.”

Jesse settled into the seat across from Victor.  “Now, about Daisy Claussen…”