Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Katherine, Part 2

He knelt over the candle, set in to the sand of the beach on the side of a river. I knelt across from him, observing. The flame danced in the breeze, and the light cast shadows in his dark hair and sparks in his blue eyes.

"Ready?" He asked.
"Always," I replied. The circle was cast around us, I could feel the weight of others present against my back, waiting to be invited. I had so many questions.
"Excellent." He said. "But first, answer your phone."

The riverside beach and the flickering light dissolved in to the dim grey of an Autumnal New England pre-dawn. I groped for the phone on the bedside table and checked the caller ID before thumbing the off switch and throwing the phone across the room. I fell back to sleep easily enough, but the dark man and the candle were nowhere to be found.

A heavy weight landed on the bed, and shoved a phone in my face. I pushed back, and Cade retaliated by dropping his drool covered prize - my phone - on my face. I wiped it off and shoved it under my pillow, intent on sleeping. Cade moaned plaintively, and when I opened my eyes again he was sitting by the open window, looking longingly at the street below. The gloom had burned off, and it was now 9am, by my bedside clock. I growled, but roused myself to the stage of a robe and slippers. The phone went in my pocket.

Cade (Cadence, really, but I shortened it) bounced around the kitchen while I made his breakfast. He bounced his tail while he ate, and he bounced again when he asked to go out on the run by the backdoor. I waited for my coffee to brew in the french press, and glowered.

9am on an October Saturday morning in New England is a wonderful thing. Birds sing, squirrels leap, and in the fall the leaves crinkle with a pleasing sound. Shadows of firecracker leaves dapple everything. It's a joy to behold, and the sight of it, along with my coffee, was enough to bring a smile to my lips. I sat in on my wicker swing and sipped while Cade cavorted, playing tag with the Skippy, the cat who lived under my porch. After a few minutes, Skippy landed on the woodpile and gave Cody a good swipe to the nose to let him know playtime was over. With dog under my knees, I finally pulled out my phone and turned it on. There were seven missed calls, all from my bosses number. This was, sadly, not unusual for a day off. THere were no voicemails, but there was one text. I hate talking. I love texting. My boss knows this, but is the opposite, and hates typing with his thumbs. I saw the visions of my week off fly past as I called up the text and read it.

"Job for you." It read. "Made, two dead. Location, Gypsum, NH."

My boss texts like most people send telegrams. Just enough and absoltutely not enough information, all at once. I was surprised he hadn't put in 'STOPS' instead of periods. Probably couldn't figure out how, I thought.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Katherine's Story Part 1

Let's get something straight here. True facts, right out of the gate. 

Vampires are monsters.

They are fiends, they are creatures of death and destruction. They may be demons, jury's still out on that. They live on blood and thrive on gore. They are not sexy, they can not be saved by adding a soul. They do not sparkle. 

Vampires are monsters, and they want you dead. Preferably dead and bloodless, by their own teeth.  

If you're willing to accept that, all of it, and move forward from there... consider this your invitation to my world. If you're insistent that love conquers all, that there's no such thing as evil, only evil actions... Please leave now. Take your things, we'll wait.

Still with me? 

My name's Katherine. I kill vampires. This is my story.

Vampires are predators, and have been since the dawn of time. They prey on humans, and nothing else. The blood of a rat or a deer or a pig will not sustain a Vampire. Without us, they wither and die. 

Vampires are not immortal. Close to it, yes, and very hard to kill. Modern technology has evened the playing fields a bit, but still the Vampires hold their ground. They use our blood to draw the lines of scrimmage.

There are two types of vampires:

The Born:
Vampires can breed with each other, but not with humans. Only Born vampires can breed at all. Their breeding cycle seems to work on the magnitude of years and decades, as opposed to a humans gestation of months and childhood of years. There are not many of them, the Born ones, but they're trying to change that. The females choose mates based entirely on their ability to breed healthy children. The males use what choice they have to make alliances, to run the politics and network. There are perhaps 500 Born Vampires in the US. Perhaps 10,000 in the world. 
In far flung corners, they are worshiped as gods, sacrificed to, sustained by the humans they live among. In the US they are not so well loved, but perhaps only because there is so much competition from the human government and media.  
Born Vampires can not tolerate sunlight, although they do not 'die' or become incapicitated during the day. They do tend to sleep when the sun is up, because it is convenient. They don't eat human food, because they don't need it. If they are forced to, to keep up the human charade, garlic does not bother them. Neither does any other root vegetable. 
One myth has held true over the centuries. The Churches were concerned that as their power faded, so would the magical barriers that keep Vampires from homes they have not been invited in to, however it has become evident that anyone with faith enough in themselves or in any higher power, can keep a Vampire out. 

The Made:
Born Vampires need to eat once a day. Generally, they kidnap someone and hold them, feeding on them until they die of starvation, malnutrition or blood loss. 
Made Vampires are a little different. Occasionally, a Born Vampire has a bad day. Things get out of hand, or a sudden hunger possesses them. Possibly, they're just bored. They grab a human and drain them, all in one go. The result, 90% of the time, is a corpse. 
10% of the time, it's a Made.
Mades are more dangerous, in the short term. Mades can go out in sunlight. Not truly dead, they eat and drink like the rest of us. They live out their human lifespan.  Drug addicts, alcoholics and the mentally ill are their favorite prey, just like most predators, which doesn't make them easier to spot. 
Mades don't need to feed on human blood at all. They do crave it, though. More than food. More than money. More than sex. Food, money and sex become paths to lead them to blood. 
Sometimes a Made is.. made.. lives and dies in the span of a week. Sometimes it takes months for them to meet a Killer, like me. Occasionally, it takes years. The craftiness of the Made is the equivalent to the intelligence of the human bitten. Really smart people rarely find themselves in dark alleys with Born Vampires in the middle of a rage. As a result, Made Vampires tend to have the social skills and status of the local drug dealer. You've probably met one. 

And me? 

My name is Katherine, and I'm a Killer. Some of my compatriots use the term "Vampire Killer", to differentiate between someone who murders humans, and someone who kills vampires. I don't. Not anymore.

I was born in a small town, and grew up right. I wasn't the Homecoming Queen, but I was on the court. I got good grades, I was the president of my Sorority in college. I go home for the holidays, I go to church on Sundays, I say my prayers every night. I don't have tattoos. I drink little, smoke not at all and don't do drugs. When I date, I wait until the third date before I sleep with the guy, and then I use a condom. 
I'm a good girl. 

There's no trauma in my past that egged me in to the life I live. My siblings (one sister, one brother) are fine and well, as are my parents, not murdered under suspicious circumstances. I didn't fall in with a bad crowd in High School, and loose a gang member to a Vampire. 

I went to a job fair. Senior year of college, thinking I might like a nice position in a Wall Street firm, or maybe a publishing house. An office with windows, a dress with heels. On a lark, I put in a resume with what I took to be a government agency with letters for a name. A spy job would be fun, I thought, and then promptly forgot about it. 

6 weeks later, the day after I graduated, They called me.  The anacronym agency I had thrown my resume to so cavalierly was interested.  Three interviews, a psych test, and a background check later, I had the job. I'm not sure why they chose me, even ten years later. I can't imagine doing anything else, though. I don't love it. I just can't imagine doing anything else.

I'll write more soon, unless I get killed. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A six month lesson.

Whoa... six months since my last post, huh? yeah... Winter wasn't so good here. In fact,  I think of the last Winter and I see that guy from Game of Thrones, wrapped in furs, brooding with his big sword. (I don't actually watch Game of Thrones.. I just follow the meme on FB. Don't judge.)

But it's half way through the half way month. A very on - the - edge sort of evening. A could go either way type of night.

A good day for starting and ending.

I came to a realization today, that I've slowly been working my way to over the last few weeks. The last few years, really. It wasn't an easy realization, although the truth became more apparent every day.

My dreams were making me bitter.

Not my dreams that I have at night, which are a different story altogether. My DREAMS. My wants, my desires, my longing ... to move West. To live in the Rockies. To wander.

I was sitting on my porch, breathing in the sweet smell of my aspen tree (I savor this, the week each year it blooms. It is the smell of home, to me.) and I realized that the smell of the tree.. the scent of my dreams.. made me feel bitter and angry.

Which kinda sucks, right? I mean, if you don't have your dreams, what do you have? Aren't we always told to hold on to our dreams? Isn't that the current pop psychology? "HOLD ON TO YOUR DREAMS. MAKE THEM REALITY."

Right. But.

Here I am, sitting on my perfectly nice porch, in my perfectly nice town, with an up and coming business of my own, a handsome teen son, a ferociously cute toddler boy, and a husband who works harder than he should...

and I'm not happy because I'm not in Colorado? Good Almighty Elements, Hil; YOU"VE EVEN GOT AN ASPEN TREE!

So I said to myself: "Seriously. Get a grip. You're turning in to someone you don't like. And if YOU don't like you, ain't nobody else gonna. Rule #1: Let go of what you want. If you love something, let it free. Be Here, Now. (Insert platitude.)"

And I heard a little voice.. a tiny, small voice.. the sort that could have come from, ooooh, a talking frog, let's say.. speak "Oh, Thank God. You got it. Here endeth the lesson."

I take it as a testament to my Higher Power's faith in me that they held on this long. I never lost faith in Them, either, even if They do sound like a frog. I just forgot Rule # 1. Let go of what you want.

I'll always love the West. I'll always see the Rockies when I think of home. And someday, I'll be there. But now, I'm here. And I've got a couple boys who seem to like me. I've got a big dog that I love to walk. I've got a good man. I've got a business of my own, and the probability of a partner to help me make it even better. I'm super lucky, and I know it. And if I can't be in Colorado, well then, Colorado will just have to come to me.

I've already got the Aspen Tree.

Here Endeth The Lesson.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holidays, Faith, and other Tetchy things

Oh, Holiday Season. ... you are like a very pretty pebble caught between a silk stocking and the finest of footwear.

Tis the season for people to get tetchy. I'm pretty sure that's a Yiddish word, as the Jewish seem to have the best vocabulary for categorizing annoyances.

The annual online war is being waged: Don't say Happy Holidays to me, I'm Christian! Don't say Merry Christmas to me, I'm Pagan! Don't put your Jesus in my neighborhoods secular display! Don't put your Santa in my manger! What the hell is Eid?

I have to say that most of the Jews I know just stay out of the whole mess, keep their heads down, and have beautiful Hannukah celebrations despite the rest of us.

I try to stay out of it, or at least keep it funny. (That's my philosophy for a lot of things.) I don't turn down a blessing of goodwill and cheer, no matter what flavor of faith it comes from. I try to peg my own blessings based on the person; and I hope that when I fail and say Merry Christmas to a non believer, they'll take it in the spirit that it was intended.

This is the time of year, though, when I receive the most questions and commentary on my own faith. Mostly it's people who want to say the right thing, and that's sweet. Sometimes it's not, and that's irritating, but I figure it this way:

If God said for the people who were sure of their faith in him to go forth and prostelytize... well. God's a tricky bugger, and a bit more cynical than me... but I know that when I send a kid out to teach something, what I'm really looking for is for them to learn something new. Maybe this whole 'GO FORTH and SPEAK the word of GOD' thing is just as much for the preacher as the heathen. (Heathen: one who lives on a heath. Not: ONe who doesn't believe in God, eats babies for dinner, worships Satan. See where I'm going with this?)

Does this mean I sit down to for coffee with every evangelical-mormon-watchtower-passing-free-love-hippie that comes along, and try to sway them to my point of view? No. I'm not that bored.

If I were going to, ahem, express my views on the holiday season, though, it would go something like this:

This is the season of the dimming of the light. This is the time of cold winds and ice storms. Nothing grows now. This is when the shadows and darkness take over the world. This time is a test. Will you light your own candle, and have faith in it? Can your undying devotion turn that tiny flame in to the resurgance of something greater than itself?

Your light can be Jesus, or God, or Santa. Your light can be Krampus, the Sun, or magical oil that burns for days. Your light can be the Hadron Collider at CERN. You can call your light whatever you want. It doesn't matter, as long as you light the candle, and have faith in it. As long as you beat back the shadows for another year.

uh oh. He's getting smarter.

Holy brain formations batman! Sawyer has, so far this morning, tried to play his harmonica and guitar at the same time (Youtube stream of Springsteen & James Keyes has been going all AM) and then started running around naming shapes. Which sounds boring, but: "ODEN BUM!" ... lifts tail... "CIRCLE!" AHAHAHA!" is not boring.

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's taken 35 years for me to write this.

I've tried to write this post a bunch of times. Each time I've given up, either because I lost my thread, or my voice, or more often, because it made me weepy, and I hate crying. Tonight though, I think that I'll just get it out, and maybe a few tears, and see where it all goes.

This post needs a little background: First, my parents are retired Air Force. My grandparents are retired military. So are my uncles, my aunts, my cousins.. it's a theme. I spent my earliest childhood on White Birch St, a housing community on Pease Air Force Base in NH. I moved to York, Maine when I was 5 or so.

My genetic heritage is this: Italian, Welsh, Irish, Scottish, Norwiegan, Cherokee, .. and rumors of a little African thrown in can be verified with one look at my lips. This genetic throw of the dice resulted in my face, which is a face shaped face, and my skin, which is olive. My eyes are dark hazel, although most people would tell you they were brown. My hair is a frizzy, kinky nest of curls that looks dark brown or black, but is pretty darned red when viewed up close and in singular.

I look like everybody. Well, outside of NH or ME in the 80s, I look like everybody. I've been spoken to in Arabic, Farsi, Hindu, Afghani, Pakistani, Egyptian and every single flavor of Spanish and Portugese and Italian. Each time, the speaker thought I would respond in their native languae. I've been told I'm "exotic like Toucan Sam." and I've been told "It's great how far up the ladder someone of your color can come these days." I've been called a nigger, and high yeller,' which is more accurate, but still totally wrong.

What I don't look like, is my mother. We've come to terms with this, and now enjoy the looks we get when we announce we're related. I've got 4 inches on her. She's got red hair and greeny hazel eyes, and burns in two seconds flat on a sunny day. My mother is beautiful, and I've her genetics to thank for my blonde haired, blue eyed and tawny skin, green eyed sons. In black and white, we look like a family. In color photos, we look like a UN meeting.

There's the background. Here's the story.

My God Mother is of Mexican descent, and also part of an Air Force family. So, obviously, are her children, my god siblings. We all lived near each other when I was small. I have a photo of Sandy and the children, taken in the 70s, and that's about all I knew of them, thanks to the Military moving us all over. There are other photos, which show my christening, and I remember looking at those when I was small. I remember asking who they were, and my mother telling me that *this* was my god mother, and *this* was my god father, and *these* were my god siblings.

My mother tried to explain to me the concept of god parents, but I was about 4, and took away very little fact, and even less memory. What I do remember is this: My father was gone most times, and so it was just me and my mother, whom I looked nothing like. Here were photos showing me as a baby along side my god family, whom I had the same coloring as.

So I decided, in the manner of a 4 year old, that when God gives you a 'God Family', he must make you look like them, so you'll fit in later and know each other when you find each other. Because Mom and Dad, they know who you are, so you don't need to look like them. But looking like your God Family might come in handy for ID purposes down the road.

I spent most of Kindergarten and First Grade telling people I was Mexican. I believed it to be so.

Now, 30 years later, I'm back in touch with my God Mother and my God Sister, thanks to the wonder of Facebook. I'm pleased to report that they are even more wonderful that the fantasy I created in my mind all those years ago. My parents made a good choice, when they picked my God Parents.

And here's the lesson: It's not about what the color says, it's not about what you look like in black and white. It's about what you believe, and what you have faith in that counts. Always.

Kids and Christmas. Give Values.

Things Sawyer played with today: welding goggles (superhero) carboard from under the frozen pizza ( frisbee), the dog (noble steed), Aunt Amber (jungle gym), moms ring measurer ( sword), Ruler (sword with numbers), markers and paper (airplanes, train tickets, and eventually a tattoo of a watch on his arm. ) The remote (phaser). People, parents, listen up: Kids DO NOT NEED MANY TOYS. They need supplies, which are oftenth free. With Christmas looming, please, get kids one thing, if you want, that you think they'll LOVE.. and donate the rest to charity. That would be the best gift ever. Heifer INternational is great, you can name the gift after a child. How about a stuffed water buffalo with a reciept of the amount you gave, and a photo of the water buffalo named George? How coll would that be?!