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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

GHOUL OF MY DREAMS_May Monster for today

In recent urban fantasies there have been sparkly vampires, werewolves that retain their intelligence when they transform, and zombies who just want to cuddle.

This trend neuters monsters ... removes their "bite."  Usually written by women, they reflect the attraction to bad boys while murmuring that the bad boy isn't really all that bad.

As a former counselor, I cannot stress enough that bad boys usually ARE bad and usually ARE boys (immature.)

I rebelled.  I wanted to have a teen boy fall in deadly love with a girl with literal bite: a ghoul whose hunger for his flesh wars with her hunger for his heart:

It began at the crypt of Marie Laveau at midnight, days before Hurricane Katrina.

Victor is there because he has believed the lie that for his hero, Sam McCord, to live, he must die. And he has heard the whispered rumors that to visit Marie Laveau's crypt at midnight was to die:

Once again, I was alone.

I looked around. I didn’t know what I expected to see. It was a cemetery at night. Cue the spooky music. I snorted at myself. I was playing it tough because I was scared spitless.

I had been in New Orleans long enough to know some of the legends.

Marie Laveau had ruled as absolute Voodoo Queen during most of the 1800’s. Voodoo might sound silly now. But back then, brrr.

It reached into politics and pockets, being a cold-blooded business. And Marie Laveau was reported to have been a cold-blooded business woman. She was one of the few women of color to own pieces of property – expensive places.

But Voodoo was first and foremost a religion. One you didn’t cross. Like I was crossing it now.

I looked around St. Louis Cemetery. Which crypt was Marie Laveau’s? And how far away was midnight?

I remembered they called this place the City of the Dead. Catchy name. But not anything you’d dance to … unless it was to the danse macabre.

Damn, this place was quiet. I walked softly. There. To my right. A crypt with a dozen X’s carved into its stone face. And wreaths of flowers hanging from all four corners.


That’s what they called the flowers and other things left at her tomb. I snorted. I bet I was the biggest gris-gris ever left at her tomb.

I stumbled. My head was suddenly even lighter than it had been earlier tonight when Meilori’s blossomed like a tower out of Hell. What was wrong with me?

I needed to sit down. I walked over to what I took to be Marie Laveau’s crypt and sat down with my back pressed to its marred face. I had a hard time believing how much had happened in just a few hours.

I had gone from being sure I was dead to feeling hope for the first time in years. I had felt wanted with a chance of an adopted family. My eyes grew hot and wet. Stupid. I had been stupid. Homes were for other kids. Not me.

My head spun. What was going on? Maybe it was being surrounded by all this death. Death seemed to stalk our family. Every boyfriend Mother got seemed to die in some terrible way.

I smiled bitterly. I had the answer. Mother was the Angel of Death. Yeah, she just couldn’t take me on her rounds. That was the reason she dumped me all the time.

I snorted at myself. Yeah, right. Mother’s boyfriends turned up dead all the time because they were the ultimate bad boys – the only ones Mother seemed attracted to. I smiled sour. Lucky me.

Yeah that was the name for me all right: Lucky.

I squeezed shut my eyes to keep from crying. I was Victor Standish, damn it! Tears were for little boys not me.

I pressed my back harder against the tomb of Marie Laveau. Midnight was heavy in the humid air. Fingers of black fog weaved around me as if to leech the life from me.

Was this how dying began at midnight here?

Like I cared. So close. I had been so close to a home. I could feel the tears coming. No.

I was not going to cry. I wasn't. I looked up at the dim stars. They blurred and bled down my cheeks.

O.K. I lied. I was crying.

After years of scuffling alone on the streets, I had finally found a friend. A creepy friend to be sure. But a friend.

Now, to save his life as he had saved mine, I had to die. No more Captain Sam and his eerie way of knowing my thoughts. Sure, he was undead. But who said friends had to be perfect?

My head spun slowly like a demon drunk on too much unholy water. What was going on? A voice. I was hearing a voice inside my head.

Now, this was weird. Way weird. Had I become a supernatural radio picking up the signal of the thoughts of one the ghosts buried here?

Why not? It would fit right in with all the other strange stuff that was happening tonight.

It was a girl’s voice. She sounded British. A bit like a much younger Ada Byron.

Her words suddenly filled my head:

“I am hungry. So hungry. It was stupid of me to try to eat this squealing rat.

No good. I am hungry ... hungry for the flesh of man.

And hungrier for something else. Love.

I feel tears bleed from my dead eyes. I will find flesh to tear and rend. I always do.

But love? Never. Never will there be love for the thing that I have become.

My nose prickles. My stomach coils and growls. Flesh.

Tender, moist flesh. It has come to me. I smile. I didn't even have to place a call to pizza delivery. Besides, the last one had too much fat, not enough meat.

I frown. I smell ... tears? They are common in my graveyard. But not at night. Who comes in the night to my cemetery to cry?

I sniff. A male human. A boy. I stiffen. Once I had been a girl. What had been my name?

Alice. Though now my name is Death, once it had been Alice.

Once. So very long ago. I smile cruelly. I will punish this fool for reminding me of my heart's lonely prison.

I shall woo him with poetry before I rend his flesh. I flow through the fungus-smeared wall of my crypt.

How will his flesh taste?”

What the hell had that been? How will his flesh taste? His? Crap. She meant me.

My flesh.

I stiffened. Something all misty was oozing out of the tomb in front of me. It slowly took shape. I frowned. What the?

It was a girl. She looked to be my age: fourteen. But she was dressed up in a black Victorian style dress. She was kinda pretty ... if you were into undead girls.

Deep inside I suddenly knew. She was the girl I had just heard inside my head. And I knew how you died at midnight here.

She spoke as if her vocal chords were all rusty:

"Her lips were red, her looks were free,

Her locks were yellow as gold:

Her skin was as white as leprosy,

The Nightmare LIFE-IN-DEATH was she,

Who thicks man's blood with cold."

I jutted my right forefinger at her. "Coleridge! The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner."

She took a step towards me, and leaves crackled under her foot. Crap. There went my hope that she was just a ghost.

She smiled. Red-smeared sharp teeth. And then, I remembered what she said about that half-eaten rat.

Oh, great. A ghoul. Oh, why hadn’t I asked Captain Sam more about Webster?

All right, Victor. Think. Think!

I caught my reflection in a marble crypt. I was so skinny. That was it! Skinny.

She wanted meat. O.K. I would give her meat. I fumbled in my head just where St. Louis Cemetery was. A rough map of places to avoid popped into my head.

I smiled wide. The Snowman and his hit women, Ice and Easy.

They had much more meat to them than a scrawny street kid like me.

She brushed back a stray lock of fine-spun gold from her electric blue eyes. "You are not afraid?"

"Oh, I'm scared shitless."

She giggled and studied me. "But you see a way out for you, do you?"

I stumbled to my feet, spreading out my hands. "Hey, I'm Victor Standish. I always have a plan."

Those eyes seemed to be suddenly seeing me as more than a meal. "I am ... Alice, Victor. And just what is this plan of yours?"

I winked at her. "How would you like to add drug dealers to your diet, Alice?"

She glided to me faster than I thought she could, looping her arm through my right one. "I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

I remembered how lonely she had sounded in my head, and I patted her cold, cold hand. "I think so, too."

I looked up at the face of shadows in the full moon. I smiled wide. I wasn't by myself anymore.

Looking at those blood-smeared teeth, I knew I would never be alone.

I'd always have the shivers.


  1. I'm no fan of sparkly vampires and the like! I enjoyed your excerpt!

  2. Thanks, Little Gothic Horrors:
    Victor continually risks a terrible death with his love affair with Alice. I'm happy you enjoyed how they first met. :-)

  3. You're right - making monsters cuddly is for kids' books perhaps, but it does neuter the effect of monsters. And right again, bad boys don't change or treat their women all that well.

    I like reading how Alice and Victor met. Did you know they also call Pere Lachaise the City of the Dead? It may have something to do with the above ground coffers and monuments.

    Isn't the glitz what they call a 'glamour' like the pretty face the old crone wears?

  4. D.G.:
    Pere Lachaisre, the largest cemetery in the city of Paris, is beautiful in a gothic way certainly. Since New Orleans is built below sea level, bodies buried tend to ooze to the surface! Hence it is hard to keep a good man (or a bad one) down in any New Orleanian cemetery!

    Is Paris built below sea level, too?

    Yes, glamour hides all sorts of things fae and others would rather Man not see!

    I'm happy you liked seeing how Alice and Victor first met.

    And bad boys are bad for a reason!! Monsters need bite to be truly monsters. Thanks for visiting and commenting, Roland

  5. It's always such a pleasure to read about Victor and Alice's first encounter. A match surely made in heaven...

    Thanks again for the replay. SO enjoyable, Roland.

  6. Michael:
    I have new visitors all the time so this first meeting is brand new to them, and it seemed to fit May Monster Madness -- for some say Victor is mad to fall for a monster like Alice! Always good to see you here! :-)

  7. Great stuff, Roland! This excerpt makes me think of a lot of crazy stuff. My mom's name is Marie, so when I was a kid, I loved that song about Marie Laveau and Handsome Jack. I've never been to New Orleans, but I'd love to go on a history hunt there! :)

  8. Celeste:
    I know the exact song you are talking about. :-) New Orleans is a truly fun city for a history hunt! Especially the French Quarter. Just watch your guide's shadow -- if he does not have one, he could be DayStar! Cue the spooky music. LOL.

  9. Per your question about Pere Lachaise,that cemetery is high on a hill in the Marais-Bastille area of Paris.

    Paris has underground caverns as well as the Catacombs. I've read about that problem of being below sea level in New Orleans, but in Paris, I think they had other reasons, such as compacting remains in a family tomb to save space.

  10. D.G.:
    Yes, I would imagine in an ancient city like Paris, space in an inner city cemetery would be a very high premium! In the Japanese anime, NOIR, set in Paris, they had a suspenseful episode where a gunfight happened in one of the catacombs of Paris.

  11. I love you ghoul-friend. Unique, interesting, and true to character. What can a ghoul do when she's hungry!?

    I'm not into sparkly vampires or zombies that want to cuddle. I like monsters to be monsters - even when they retain their intelligence. They need to think within their pre-built paramaters - like the core programming of a computer.

    Werewolves that retain their human intelligence is another matter for me however. Shifters are not undead. They are live beings. They breed, and have societal norms.

    Wolves are highly intelligent, communal beings. They think, they plan, they make informed decisions. So yeah, I can equate their intelligence - even in their wolf form - to humans.

    I don't fault Vampires their angst over killing and feeding off humans. I can even see them caring about and even falling in love with live beings. Why not; death did not rob them of humanity. But, food is food, right?

    Well - I guess some humans become vegetarians, which isn't natural to us carnivores, so I guess a vampire not eating humans is the same as the vegetarian concept. But procreation? Nope, those glands dies witht he rest of their organs. Sparkly still just doesn't get it for me.

    Zombies though: they are completely dead. Their bodies are rotting, the only part of their brain that is alive is the reptilian core that regulates movement and hunger.

    You know Roland, Zombies don't scare me much because I have a hard time conceptualizing the actuality. Brain dead is brain dead.

    I'm an avid The Walking Dead viewer, and can't hardly wait for next season to start. But ya know, I don't watch it for the zombies. I watch Falling Skies for the same reason; dystopian society. It has the same appeal as Stephen King's The Stand.

    None of that "written by women" crap Roland. Sheesh! Have you noticed how men romanticize the "harlot with the heart?" As Jessica Rabbit says: I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way!

    Seriously; same concept as the bad boy. SIN CITY, KILL BILL,CAT WOMAN; yeah all with bad girls written for men, drawn/written by men. Just cuz a man prefer's his bad girl in the form of a cartoon (eg; comic book) doesn't make the sentiment less appealing.

    At least women have real-world caricatures of their bad-boys!


  12. Donna:
    And Alice loves you right back – which is safe since you are in different states!

    Yes! Monsters have a core programming.

    My idea of werewolves was shaped by the black and white Universal movies. Even THE WOLFEN AND THE HOWLING had wolves and werewolves with animalistic intelligence but essentially predators.

    It just seems illogical to me to put a human mind in an animal’s body. The skin walkers in Plain Indian myths were beings you stayed away from with good reason!

    What do mothers tell their children? “Don’t play with your food.”

    I, too, can see an isolated vampire falling in love with a specific human – after all, look at Alice and Victor.

    But to vampires as a whole, they would see humans as a whole as … food.

    I can see our government in an attempt to come up with chemical additives to improve military troops inadvertently creating a chemical agent that does not do what they intended, merely keeping the reptilian portion of our brains alive.

    And the military seems unable to avoid screw-ups so I can see that chemical agent making it to the general population.

    I like dystopian society speculative fiction, too.

    Sam McCord’s America is a bit of a dystopian society as in CREOLE KNIGHTS, I refer to the peace treaty President Ulysses S. Grant had him broker with the Plains Indians.

    Sam warned Grant that he would insure that whatever terms the government agreed to would be kept. Neither the Plains Indians or Grant believed him.

    They should have.

    Even in the year 2005, the Great Indian Nation exists in the center of America – neither Indian or White being able to cross its boundaries – the railroads having to go completely around it.

     Yes, I know that fiction written by men often is as biased as that of prose written by women – influenced by wish fulfillment.

    Ian Fleming’s femme fatales and the sexual encounter of the moment. Dashiell Hammett’s and Raymond Chandler’s evil seductress and destroyer of the men around her.

    I just finished re-reading POTSHOT by Robert B. Parker (a dry tongue-in-cheek P.I. tribute to THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN).

    It is his second novel in a row where the beautiful, amoral damsel in distress gets away with multiple murders.

    What I find amusing is that the love between Parker’s Spenser and Susan Silverman (which is a healthy fun one) is criticized by both female and male readers.

    When Susan, over a series of books I call the “Wounded Spenser” series, nearly destroys him when she spirals into dysfunction, leaving Boston and Spenser to “find herself,” the readers loved her. I shake my head.

    I loved your insightful comment. This was fun.

    I'm happy you remember their first encounter fondly. When Victor does, he starts to count his fingers to make sure they haven't been made a snack of!

  13. Excellent point about the bad boys and monsters. I truly don't get the vamp attraction. They'd be cold and most likely have smelly breath. Werewolves, meh, a little better...until flea season.

    Your book sounds great. About time guys get their turn at love. Even if it's creepy love.

  14. Great writing. And I love the stories about Marie Laveau.

  15. You are absolutely correct. Werewolves should not be puppy-fied, made harmless by some writer who wants to introduce conscience.

    Victor is not in a good place.

  16. *winks* I knew you'd enjoy my comments in the spirit of fun as intended Roland. Always a pleasure to have discussion with you :)


  17. My friend Marina writes about some really scary zombies. Her focus is on the people and how their lives change. Quickly. Sort of like Stephen King....

    I have to admit I did like the character of Edward. The character, not that he was a vampire.

    Interesting reading in the comments!