p.s. Check out the end of this post for the current contest on Lynn's blog.
Reluctant oracle and consultant for the Paranormal Police, Rachael Kristoff, has problems, and the vampire at her front door is only the beginning. Threatened by supernatural foes, hampered by her malfunctioning clairvoyance, and betrayed by the only family she has left, Rachael is forced to rely on her former lover. For the sake of both of their souls, she will make the only choice left open to her: Depend on the vampire, or die.
Bound to the bloodline of the Oracles since the fall of the Roman Empire, accused of murder, and betrayed by his own vampire Childe, Marcus Valerius is a relic of past glories better left in a previous era. For centuries, he has protected the children of Delphi against all who would control the future for their own purposes. Now, saving the life of the only woman he has ever loved means destroying the Oracular abilities he's sworn to protect.
"It is likely that you are correct," Marcus said. I glanced at him, what was with the change of opinion? He raised his head and sniffed at the air. "There are creatures approaching the building at rapid speed. It is unclear their intentions, but I do not believe it could be of any good."
"What creatures?" Damn it, there were times when I really wish I had better control over my own abilities. My mother would have been able to scan ahead a few moments, see what was heading toward us, and know the best path for avoidance. If I was lucky, I could call up an oracular trance after a few hours of meditation, and only under very strict conditions. Never yet had I been able to see my own future. Of course, given what had happened to my mother, that wasn't entirely a bad thing. I pushed that thought firmly away.
"Animalcules, I believe."
"Great. I always love those." My sarcasm could have cut someone off at the knees. Animalcules were easier to create than their humanoid counterparts, but no less dangerous. Mostly. Homunculus have some limited form of reason; animalcules could only follow orders given them by their creator. Bring me that person. Burn down that building. Steal this item. Kill those vampires. Stuff like that. They couldn't be trusted for more than two-step directions, either, and were often easier to evade. On the down side, animalcules were shock troops, powerfully armored and weaponed. They were built for speed, strength, and brute force. I had a nice set of scars on my left hip from my last encounter with an animalcule cat. It had mostly resembled a house cat, except it was the size of a Mini Cooper.
I recovered the glock from my backpack, zipped the opening, and slung the pack over my shoulder.
"You owe me toiletries. And a new house."
"Gladly. I would be honored that you would accept such a gift." Marcus presented me with a rare, sincere smile. Bastard actually looked touched, pleased. I imagined that he would--he'd always made a show of his generosity to me. The muscles in my stomach made an interesting, not unpleasant squirm. Angrily, I brushed the effects away. That part of my life was over. This was a job, and like any other employer, he was obligated to cover my expenses.
I slipped to the window, flicked the curtain apart with two fingers and peered out. The light wasn't good, of course. I kept a few floodlights on in the backyard, but the creatures avoided coming into direct contact with the electric lights. There was something about artificially created light that bothered the paranormal. Good thing I knew that. I opened one last drawer and pulled out an enormous hand-held spotlight.
There were other means of protection I could employ, if Marcus wasn't around. Loud, artificial sound would interfere with their sense of hearing. I kept loudspeakers keyed to my iPod outside, as well as additional floodlights. The problem was, of course, that Marcus would be just as affected.
"Why can't you just mist up and meet me a few blocks over," I muttered. I eyed the remote longingly.
A few keytaps and my house would be surrounded by an instant rave. Flood and strobe lights would carpet the lawn, blinding and distracting the animalcules. Daft Punk would blare from the speakers, confusing their hearing. With two senses rendered useless, I could probably get past them before they thought to use their sense of smell to track me. Assuming, of course, that they were tracking me. They could just as easily be after Marcus.
"Should there ever come a method that one could use to safely alter the past," Marcus mused, "I believe I shall return to 1894 and shoot Stoker."
"Not one vampire, ever, has mastered the ability to shape-shift so profoundly as to become mist. It is a storyteller's embellishment." Marcus actually looked angry, his flat black eyebrows bristling.
"You are a constant disappointment to me."
About the author:
Lynn Townsend is a geek, a dreamer and an inveterate punster. When not reading, writing, or editing, she can usually be found drinking coffee or killing video game villains. Lynn's interests include filk music, romance novels, octopuses, and movies with more FX than plot. You can find out more at
Halloween is, actually, my favorite holiday. It's fun, doesn't involve major expenditures (a costume, some decorations, bags of candy for trick or treaters, replacement candy after I eat the first bag, etc) and has absolutely no familial obligations whatsoever.