New Year

April 29, 2020

New Year, don’t come to our homes, for we are wanderers
from a ghost-world, denied by man.
Night flees from us, fate has deserted us
We live as wandering spirits
with no memory
no dreams, no longings, no hopes.

The horizons of our eyes have grown ashen
the gray of a still lake,
like our silent brows,
pulseless, heatless,
denuded of poetry.
We live not knowing life.

New Year, move on. There is the path
to lead your footsteps.
Ours are veins of hard reed,
and we know not of sadness.
We wish to be dead, and refused by the graves.
We wish to write history by the years
If only we knew what it is to be bound to a place
If only snow could bring us winter
to wrap our faces in darkness
If only memory, or hope, or regret
could one day block our country from its path
If only we feared madness
If only our lives could be disturbed by travel
or shock,
or the sadness of an impossible love.
If only we could die like other people.

Nazik al-Mala’ika
Trans. Rebecca Carol Johnson

Vampire

November 2, 2019

A writer who attempts in the nineteenth century to rehabilitate the ancient legends of the were-wolf and the vampire has set himself a formidable task. Most of the delightful old superstitions of the past have an unhappy way of appearing limp and sickly in the glare of a later day, and in such a story as Dracula, by Bram Stoker, the reader must reluctantly acknowledge that the region of horrors has shifted its ground. Man is no longer in dread of the monstrous and the unnatural, and although Mr. Stoker has tackled his gruesome subject with enthusiasm, the effect is more often grotesque than terrible.

The Transylvanian site of Castle Dracula is skilfully chosen, and the picturesque region is well described. Count Dracula himself has been in his day a medieval noble, who, by reason of his ‘Vampire’ quilters, is unable to die properly, but from century to century resuscitates his life of the ‘Un-Dead,’ as the author terms it, by nightly droughts of blood from the throats of living victims, with the appalling consequence that those once so bitten must become vampire in their turn.

The plot is too complicated for reproduction, but it says no little for the authors powers that in spite of its absurdities the reader can follow the story with interest to the end. It is, however, an artistic mistake to fill the whole volume with horrors. A touch of the mysterious, the terrible, or the supernatural is infinitely more effective and credible.”

Review of Dracula by Bram Stoker – The Manchester Guardian, June 15, 1897

Viscount de Morieve

February 28, 2015

LipstolickMidnight.

Snow softly falling on the small clutch of buildings comprising the Morieve family estate. As later related by Aristide Groult, all were sleeping when the child screamed.

‘It was a scream to curdle the blood.’

‘A soul in torment,’ Groult described, making the sign of the cross in the air before him. ‘It woke everyone. We all heard it. A death sound…’

Fear often paralyses. An individual, touched by unspeakable terror, finds him or herself unable respond; to take action of any sort. And that is precisely what happened now, following the screams of young Adine Boursang. Groult and his wife sat frozen into ridged immobility – as did most of the estate’s terrified inhabitants.

Josépha Boursang, however, after momentary hesitation, rushed to her daughter’s room above the stable; her husband was only seconds behind her. They found the girl on her bed of blood-soaked straw, throat ripped open and totally drained of blood!

Word of the bloody atrocity quickly spread. Many of the local peasants muttered an explanation of sorts with the single word: vampire…

‘The child had been sucked dry by one of the undead,’ said Groult. ‘A priest should be sent for immediately. Action taken…’

Because the vampire’s identity was known to one and all: the old Viscount, dead and buried these past ten years. Yes, the Viscount de Morieve, that shrewd aristocrat who had managed to keep his head, when all about him were losing theirs, during the ongoing terrors of the French Revolution, an upheaval soaked in the blood of the French aristocracy.

‘There was talk,’ said Aristide Groult, ‘of great evil in the man. Even before the Revolution, people claimed the Viscount’s blood was tainted; that he came from the East. Others say how could the man have survive the trials of Robespierre’s Reign of Terror? Explain that if you will. Madame guillotine was cheated by this de Morieve. He faced down the mob. Or so they say. He came through it, and with his lands intact.’

Came through it, yes, but greatly changed by what he’d seen and experienced. People ripped apart by the mob, literally ripped limb from limb; others stoned or beaten to death by peasants whose faces were awash with blood. He’d witnessed friends and close acquaintances beheaded by the guillotine, the national razor. He’d existed for some years in this sea of blood…

Biding his time, or so it was claimed, the Viscount de Morieve waited until the restoration for his revenge. He systematically began to murder peasants, day labourers and casual farm hands. Using a double-handed axe he would decapitated his victims, bathing in their blood and dancing naked in the moonlight.

These atrocities continued for some months, until one evening a blacksmith on the estate fearing for his own life brutally murdered de Morieve. The Viscount was dully buried in consecrated ground with all due ceremony.

‘But he came back,’ Aristide Groult claimed. ‘He came back and we did nothing. He murdered child after child. For years it went on. And we did nothing…’

Finally it was Nathalie Larrieu who took action. Seventy-two years after Adine Boursang’s bloody murder, Nathalie visited the newly appointed priest. The priest, uncertain, shocked by the woman’s tale of blood lust and walking dead, consulted with the grandson of de Morieve. Together they investigated the Viscount’s tomb, opening it to find…the perfectly preserved body of de Morieve, ruddy-cheeked, and in the full-bloom of health.

Without delay a stake was obtained and driven through the heart of the ‘sleeping’ Viscount. He screamed and his screams were heard for miles around. Blood spurted over the interior of the tomb and over the praying priest, the grandson and his retainers.

‘It was the most terrible thing,’ Nathalie Larrieu later testified. ‘As if he were still alive. I’ve never seen so much blood before. After the whitethorn stake was driven through him, the body was removed from the tomb and burned. The ashes were taken to a nearby river and scattered. Since then there have been no more attacks on our children…’

The Dead travel fast….

February 20, 2015

coffin

On the top of the tomb, seemingly driven through the solid marble — for the structure was composed of a few vast blocks of stone — was a great iron spike or stake. On going to the back I saw, graven in great Russian letters:

THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST.

There was something so weird and uncanny about the whole thing that it gave me a turn and made me feel quite faint. I began to wish, for the first time, that I had taken Johann’s advice. Here a thought struck me, which came under almost mysterious circumstances and with a terrible shock. This was Walpurgis Night!

Walpurgis Night, when, according to the belief of millions of people, the devil was abroad — when the graves were opened and the dead came forth and walked. When evil things of earth and air and water held revel. This very place the driver had specially shunned. This was the depopulated village of centuries ago. This was where the suicide lay; and this was the place where I was alone — unmanned, shivering with cold in a shroud of snow with a wild storm gathering again upon me! It took all my philosophy, all the religion I had been taught, all my courage, not to collapse in a paroxysm of fright.

Bram Stoker
DRACULA’S GUEST

Vampire shadows

December 27, 2014

Shadows

Do vampires cast a shadow?

According to Bram Stoker, they do not. His vampirific count is inherently noncorporeal, thus lacks a shadow even in bright moonlight.

However in folklore, vampires most definitely do possess shadows. For example the Nachzehrer and Masan cause death to anyone who steps into their shadow. Gypsies, of course, believed that vampires were pure shadow, beings of spirit only, like fingers of mist lying over moorland.

ChristmasDin
(Too much gaiety, or one of the undead? A guest of Peedeel’s following Christmas repast December 2012)

Theses hints and tips are designed to help detect the presence of the undead – not just during the festive season, but all year round. A Vampire is for life, remember, not just for Christmas!

For some days now trucks have been delivering supplies to Schloss Gefährliche, Peedeel’s remote home on the edge of forever. Over the festive period a multitude of family, friends and hangers-on will descend, like ravenous beasts, on his humble residence – their appetites far greater than those of the Dwarves in Peter Jackson’s film THE HOBBIT (such a special film that, too: just like life, but twice as long!) when they unexpectedly visited poor Bilbo.

It is important we‘re able to detect any undead amongst the guests; and to recognise the difference between a potential Vampire, and a drunk who has overindulged in Peedeel’s wine cellar!

So, first things first: SIGNS

Continuously open eyes
Open mouth
Fangs
Blood around mouth
Ruddy complexion
Long, tallonlike nails

SIGNS IN POSSIBLE VICTIMS

Sleeplessness
No appetite
Bite marks (One needs to exercise great care here: I remember only too well the unfortunate incident of my Great Aunt Agatha and the state of her “toyboy” Christmas 2002. He was very nearly staked after a night of arduous passion in her spindly old arms, poor sod!).
Anemia
Nightmares
Irritability
Exhaustion
Nervousness
Weight loss
Dislike of garlic

WHAT TO DO NEXT?

So you’ve discovered one of the undead (or maybe more!) in your midst. What should you do? Well, this isn’t one of those Hammer Horrors, this is real life. Firstly, Holy Water is a big no, NO: it’s only effective if the Vamp is (or was in life) a devout Christian. Throw a glass of water over the majority of Vampires, and you’ll just piss them right off. So, don’t go there, girls & boys.

And don’t just think you can stake them with any old piece of wood you happen to have lying around, either. No. To be effective, the stake must be made from Ash or Juniper, but Buckthorn, Whitethorn and Hawthorn are also most efficacious. And remember, too, that the stake must be hammered through the chest of the undead one with a single blow! Multiple blows will only revive the creature, leaving it very pissed at you.

Sunlight can burn them, destroy them, but old ones, the most powerful Vampires are immune. So be warned.

Cremation works very well. But remember to scatter the ashes far and wide.

Crucifix, well, see Holy Water above.

Finally, extracting the heart. Highly effective, but can be very messy!

Peedeel hopes you find his advice and comments useful, and that you go on to enjoy the festive season with family, friends and loved ones. It doesn’t matter whether you are planning a small get-together, or a full blown debauched orgy, girls & boys, remember to drink responsibly and be prepared for any undead free-loaders that might come your way.

Assignation

July 10, 2014

teeth

Some inner light shines through the cracks
in his teeth: ‘Velcome to Transylvania!’
. . . at least, that’s what she thinks he says –
his accent is rather thick.

A dusty room with a dustier feather bed
is given her at this gingerbread inn.
The woodwork is highly wormed,
but interesting.

The hotelier winks with his seeing eye,
knowing she is the adventurous kind.
At eleven, sure enough, she exits through
large cracks in the shutters, slides

down the hill and up to the castle,
where he is waiting . . . He serves champagne –
the best – then smiles, his teeth pointed,
with many cracks. She smiles too,

her neck in a brace from that ski fall
in Sun Valley when, even so, she’d finished
and won the race . . . Her teeth are regular,
like all Americans’, and seem to fill

the room. Her opponent’s eyes blur
for a moment, then focus. ‘Chess?’ he suggests,
bravely. He knows he’s in for
a long and lonely night.

(Diane Fahey)