An Immortal’s Tribute [Poem]

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A dream unto me,

of times and fables gone by,

why did I cry,

when I knew the line made not to cross

yet we crossed long ago and long before

lines on your face I did adore

and what was me?

Not much to say

Who would believe on my most honest day

one who saw life and world

from burn to birth

from grass to grit

from time to time

Too weary to see it once again pass me by

and you came like speck in the night

my universe to your star

burning brightly from afar

And I knew you would fade

but all the same I wanted to stay

and see you grow old bright star from afar

touch you and caress you kindly

love you blindly

even when you fade into that dark night

back into nothing after burning so bright

let it be known that you made my time fly ever lovingly by

and if revived to come out one day

please come by

please come and stay.

[Short Story] Fantasy Fan Con Panic [Excerpt]

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Back inside, Jack and Crystal eyed the couple from the second story terrace overlooking the hotel lobby. They watched a crowd slowly form around their two targets while they swapped use of the Chem-Thermo goggles that had been provided for them.

Among the crowds of cosplayers interspersed with the banner advertisements and kiosks showcasing the newest trends in manga, anime, and fantasy there they stood among them all. Even dressed in costumes like the other con goers, it was frightening yet intriguing spectacle to see these kinds of predators blending in with the other humans down below.

The vampire looked no older than perhaps twenty as he spun his cape and flashed his fangs for the adoring fans that took photos of him and his poses. The young Dracula cosplay look that he was going for must have been some sort of meta-joke of his, or a blatant invitation for someone to stake him right then and there. Even so, he fit right into the costumed clientele of this particular convention. Crystal zoomed in on him, noticing his thin, smooth, innocent, and androgynous looking face with piercing, pale-blue eyes. Crystal raised an eyebrow as he pouted at one of the cameras that coaxed him for another photo. Under the therm-optic filter his body took on a greyish blue hue in a sea of deep red pedestrians that stood or passed him by.

The succubus — the vampire’s partner — was able to spoof her heat signature better among the crowd, but she also shared her undead boyfriend’s meta sense of humor. She was standing next to him with her bat wings and black horns on full display. They looked real, but could just as well be chalked up to being the product of well done prosthetic make up and accessories. Like the vampire, she had a conventional beauty and confidence in the way she carried herself. She wore armor, but nothing that could be considered practical. It reminded Crystal of Xenia the Warrior Princess, but with a shorter leather skirt. Not much left to the imagination. Jack and Crystal switched to the chemical tracer filter on the goggles and could see that she was already releasing pheromones into the crowd. People who

might have been uninterested in the impromptu photo shoot in the lobby, were now transfixed and slowly growing attached to this attractive couple posing together. On the surface, things looked innocent enough, but Jack and Crystal saw it for what it was: lambs being lead to slaughter in some anonymous hotel room later tonight.

As the crowd grew from a dozen to nearly twenty in a matter of minutes, Jack and Crystal got up from their table and began to walk down to the lobby area. They were dressed in post-apocalyptic duster jackets. A cosplay grab that fit with the eclectic dress code of the nerd convention. As they walked, they fingered the holstered, plastic-looking guns that were actually loaded with silver and holy relic tipped subsonic ammo. They were suppose to take this demon and vampire in alive, but if worse came to worse, the subsonic ammo and suppressors would quietly dispose of them. Jack and Crystal each put on their shades and pulled on their gas masks to counter the vampires hypnosis and the pheromones of the succubus.

Now in the lobby, they walked casually into what was now turning into a fan mob. Not a single person among the crowd of ninjas, transformers, and alien princesses noticed nor raised an eyebrow at the Mad Max cosplay couple making their way to the front to see the vampire and succubus “models” gaining attention.

When Jack and Crystal reached them, the two supernaturals noticed them, and momentarily paused their act. For a split second, it felt like a connection was made between the four of them. Fight or flight began to take hold. The vampire and succubus noticed the gas mask and shades Jack and Crystal were wearing and tensed up. The fear in their eyes seemed to surprise Jack momentarily before realizing that he had already put his hand on his gun.

First Draft of Novel: Completed

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It has been a long and grueling process. Two months of research, sixteen months of writing, eighteen months of work. 84,885 words: 126 pages single spaced, 246 words double spaced. It’s done. However, it’s not done-done. I still have editing and revising to do. There will be many more drafts before the final manuscript; but at least I can say I got this far and I’m one step closer to completing my novel…I think I’m probably going to go take a nap now, lol. Bye!

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[Short Story] Our Vampire, Lenny [Excerpt]

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When Lenny the vampire heard the rumor about the incubus and succubus couple who had fallen on hard times, he made a point to be at the nightclub Radion so that he could bump into them. The transients from hell, and those who served it, whether they be vampire or demon, alike, was a small enough world once you narrowed it down to a single city. On this piece of sprawled urbanization, there were maybe less than a hundred vampires and demons living among the whole two million of human population. Lenny knew a younger succubus who was an acquaintance to the other. This mutuality assured camaraderie would be Lenny’s in. These new friendships between immortals was how it always started: acquaintances and introductions.

Lenny sat at the edge of the bar and looked on past the crowded dance floor as the loud synthwave beats blasted inside the warm, dark ambiance among an array or lasers and black light. He craned his neck above the other strangers – what his kind mockingly called prey – and watched as his young, she-demon, friend talked to the couple. All three demons were in human form; no horns or wings to see, unlike Lenny who simply had to look less pale than usual. He carefully observed the cordial mood between the three of them and the eventual turning to his general direction when Lenny’s succubus intermediary pointed the couple towards him. Lenny simply smiled and raised his drink. The incubus and succubus couple smiled back. The wheels were now turning.

The couple moved slowly but purposefully together, arm-and-arm around each others waist like two individual organisms who had just evolved into something symbiotic. Lenny watched their walk as they skirted just at the edge of the crowd and made their casual approach towards him. Lenny could see what they were doing. It was something that could barely be picked up by the human eye, but obvious for any preternatural or supernatural in the room. The pheromones that the two demons were emitting were like a hazy miasma that was spreading over the crowd. The humans with the weakest of constitutions got hit by it first and couldn’t help but turn and look at these two objects of human beauty that passed by them. Lenny saw what was in the eyes of the humans too overcomed by it to not stop and gaze at this man and woman. They were the kinds of looks that were all too familiar to Lenny: worship, awe, intrigue, and lust; emotions that would all eventually lead to obsession. Lenny could only sit and feel thankful that he was immune to the kinds of chemical controls used in the wheel-house of demonic persuasion.

The couple walked by Lenny, very nearly passing him at the bar before stopping and turning their heads to look at him.

“Can we get some privacy somewhere?” the incubus asked Lenny, his voice a sleepy, but honey-laced purr of an accent that carried itself gracefully over the noise of the club.

“Follow me,” said Lenny, smiling, as he got up from his seat, “allow me to introduce myself, I’m Lenard, my friends call me Lenny. I’m a friend of Kimberly’s.”

The succubus extended her arm and gently shook Lenny’s hand.

“Yes, she just told us about you earlier,” said the demoness, giving off a polite, erudite, tone that similarly commanded formidable volume over the loud sounds of the club, “My name is Lindsay and this is my partner Derreck.”

“Nice to meet both of you,” said Lenny, matching both of them among the crowd, “let’s step into my office shall we?”

Inside the quiet and red plush furniture of the privacy booth, all three were able to get a better look at each other. Lenny could see the model good looks of both of the demons sitting across from him. The woman was a thin and tanned redhead with freckles and a small diamond stud sticking out of her nose. She had high cheek bones and large green eyes that contained a twinkle that danced if you stared into them long enough. The man was of similar skin tone and hair, but with a well trimmed beard and a muscular, well cut body hiding under his T-shirt and vest. His eyes were a deep shade of blue that seemed to take in the world with a tired, but quietly non-judgmental sense of contentment. His smile was small, closed, and serene like a monk who just experienced transcendence. The woman’s smile was playfully haughty with an undertone of slyness that begged to be pushed through to find the mystery that was hidden beneath.

For some reason, the couple saw fit to dress like groupie hipsters in a matching red leather and gray cotton fabric color scheme that came off surprisingly fashionable.

“You two must get mistaken for models quite often,” said Lenny, breaking the ice.

The two smiled at each other and looked back at him.

“We did a few photo shoot tours in England and Italy for a few years off and on,” said the succubus with a shrug, her voice, in the quiet of the booth, was now slow, soft, and peppy in tone; but in the process of smoothly transitioning into something mature if not sensually husky “that is until both of their economies collapsed and we had to move here.”

“Well, the free city-states in this part of the world are much more stable,” assured Lenny, “I was around when this one successfully seceded from their homeland and it has been worth the effort so far. No bloodshed, total independence, and plenty of money flowing in and out.”

“Because you vampires control the banks supporting these enclaves, right?” asked the incubus.

Lenny grinned at the question.

“Well, not exactly,” said Lenny, “but my kind — through several intermediaries — handle the finances that maintain the economy here.”

“Kimberly told us you can help us with that,” said Lindsay, her tone was still polite, but had a sense of urgency that Lenny picked up on.

It was the kind of urgency that Lenny liked, and needed, in order for this to work.

“She said you work with moving money around,” continued Lindsay, “and you’ve help plenty of people, humans included, with jobs like that.”

“Well,” said Derreck raising his arm, “we had a go at attempting some investing, but it didn’t work out.”

“Oh no, what happened?” asked Lenny.

“We trusted the wrong person, unfortunately,” said Lindsay solemnly.

“Who did you trust?” asked Lenny.

“A freelance, financier, a warlock operating in Paris,” said Derreck shaking his head in anger, “defrauded us out of everything we had and then some.”

“Last we heard, he fled to Hong Kong, hiding behind the services of some vampire lawyer he hired,” cried Lindsay, “and he was a half-breed, too, can you believe that?”

“Appalling,” said Lenny, shaking his head, “Warlocks and sorceresses are a tricky, terrible group of people when not raised by fellow Kindred or Lilim, like ourselves.”

“I’d have his lifespan for dinner, if I knew he wouldn’t enjoy ever last second of it,” Lindsay said coldly.

“We could really use some help in the meantime,” said Derreck.

“Yes, I heard both of you were looking for some assistance,” said Lenny, “I’m sorry to not beat around the bush, but tell me, how much help were you two looking to get?”

“We’re…,” Lindsay’s voice trailed off.

There was a short silence.

“Over one-hundred-thousand in the hole,” said Derreck with a sigh.

“My Lilith…” said Lenny, for the first time, actually genuinely surprised by the debt, “that much?”

“It’s extremely embarrassing, I know,” said Lindsay, “we’ve been hiding it for months now.”

“So, what can you do for us?” asked Derreck.

“Well, here’s the thing: I actually wanted to come to you two with a business proposition,” said Lenny, choosing his words very carefully, “it’s not another loan or some kind of debt consolidation, it’s a job.”

“What kind of job?” asked Derreck.

“I’m a salesmen,” said Lenny, “I deal in all kinds of product and I could use two people such as yourselves to help me with my business.”

“What kind if business is that?” asked Lindsay.

Lenny looked down and smiled. It was one of his only tells that revealed any kind of reluctance on his part.

Copyright © 2017 Philip N.R Hauser

Austin By Night – Logan [Layer 1]

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We need to talk. NOW.

That was the text message I received just a few hours earlier after I heard the verdict come down at the local courthouse. Twenty counts of first degree murder, ten counts of conspiracy, and over fifty counts of fraud towards a single man. And what came of it? Not a single conviction.

After hearing the news via text message by the same person, followed by the the insistence that I meet with them “NOW,” I spent the next few hours wandering the Austin Hike and Bike Trail and North Congress Avenue. I tried to ignore my phone’s constant buzzing from unknown numbers belonging to God-knows-who, until I finally just decided to remove the battery to stop the calls. I watched the sun go down behind the downtown skyline as made one last lap up Congress towards the capital building. Night fall came at 8p.m. It was August.

The black limo came around the corner and followed me down west 11th street. The limo slowly moved past me until the rear was in pace with my walk. I continued to ignore it even as the tinted window rolled down. It was a woman wearing shades and a black suit.

“Get in,” she ordered.

I stopped and turned to look at her. I was still wearing my shades, even though it was dark, I could recognize the woman sitting in the backseat of the limo. Her name was Kim, at least that’s what she was calling herself. I was hoping that by wearing the shades they would’ve rendered me invisible by now, but no such luck.

“Do I have a choice?” I asked.

“You didn’t answer your phone,” said Kim, obviously angry.

“It wasn’t safe to use my phone,” I told her evenly, “they probably have it tapped by now.”

“We can talk about that later,” she said, “get in.”

I looked around and saw a trash can just a few feet away. I took out my smart phone and plugged a fire-wire app’ into the phone’s charge port and hit the kill button. I dropped the phone into the trash can, trusting that the hard drive and cell data would be burned to ashes by the time it hit the bottom, and entered the limousine. The ride started just as soon as I was sitting across from her inside leather interior of the limo and had closed the door next to me.

“Nice to see the FBI’s using our tax dollars wisely,” I said looking around the interior, “you get surround sound in this thing?”

“Logan, I’m going to need you to cut the bullshit,” she said, “you need us now more than ever.”

I looked out the window as we rounded a corner.

“Look, I’m sorry things didn’t work out, but we needed more evidence,” said Kim, “The Bureau is having a hard time trusting you as an informant.”

“It’s not easy narcing on my own family,” I said, continuing to look out the window.

“There’s no one else your father trusts, but you,” Kim said, “he was able to hide behind his business associates this time, but we can still get him with tax fraud if we need to.”

I turned to look at her.

“His business associates?” I asked, surprised by the phrase.

“Alleged,” she corrected.

“Whatever. They, along with my dad, own the fucking governor,”

“But they don’t own the Lieutenant-Governor or the Attorney-General,” said Kim, “you can’t back out of this, Logan. Your father, your whole family, is going start selling each other out the closer we get to nailing them. But that won’t matter in the end because they’re all going to go to prison for life and so will you if you don’t continue to cooperate.”

I looked out the window again. It was becoming too claustrophobic in here.

“Stop the limo,” I whispered, “I want out.”

“Logan,” Kim took off her shades and looked at me, she almost looked scared. It was the first time I ever saw her look anywhere close to being afraid, “please, don’t screw yourself over like this.”

“Why me?” I asked her.

She looked away and leaned back in her seat. She closed her eyes hard and opened them again.

“You didn’t know anything,” she said, “your family kept a lot of secrets from you, Logan. Out of any potential informants we could get, you were top on the list.”

“Was that your estimation?” I asked, “or did your analysts in Quantico make that call?”

Kim didn’t say anything for a long time.

“Stop the limo,” said Kim, yelling to the front towards the driver.

“Nice to know you’re thinking of me,” I said as I got out of the vehicle.

Kim grabbed my arm before I was halfway out.

“Get a new phone,” Kim said, “contact me within twenty-four hours or I’m going to assume you told your family about this meeting.”

“In twenty-four hours I might be dead,” I told her.

“If that gets you to work faster, then that’ll work for both of us,” she said.

I got out of the limo and watched it slowly make its way down the boulevard and round the corner. The sky was pitch black above me and not a single car could be seen on the street. It was eerily quiet as I took out a spare phone from my suit pocket and dialed for a cab.

Copyright © 2017 Philip N.R Hauser

 

 

[Excerpt] Night Call [Novel]

When the dead talks to the living, one tends to listen to them whether you want to or not. For me, it came in the form of a phone call at 3 a.m., via one of my burner cell phones I had been using that night. The voice belonged to a woman who I was sure I’d never hear from again, but like most clients found themselves dialing my number as a last resort. These calls never fail at being awkward, and was something I was only now starting to get used to. After giving the usual spiel of assurances on my part, she had become much more comfortable with speaking to me in the form of terse orders, and pointed questions meant to test my knowledge in a condescending sort of way with that I obliged with what I thought to be total sincerity while tuning out the rest. It was an obvious, if totally unnecessary power-move on her part to regain some perceived loss of superiority that didn’t matter to me whatsoever. However, given my position, I did have to pretend that it mattered, and play along with the mutual charade accordingly; a charade that was much easier for me to pull off over the phone.

“Are you under surveillance right now?” I asked her.

“Yes,” she told me.

“So will I need your key code to come into your home?” I asked.

“Yes, I’m not…” she paused, “I’m not entirely human right now. I’ll send you the code to the condo so that you can unlock it.”

“Maybe I should wait then,” I told her.

“No,” her voice was a stern venom of persistence over the phone line, “this is a fucking emergency. Get here. Now.”

The living also tend to do what the dead tell them to, whether they want to or not.

The condo was owned by her, or rather, she was living in the condo that was owned by a retainer of hers. Not the kind of retainer that was on my level, nowhere near that important; but he was rich, which is usually enough. I could smell the soft pheromones coming from the door as I walked down the white, brightly lit hallway to the pent house suite. I opened the inner pocket of my jacket and pulled out the thumb-pin-sized syringe containing the inoculation I’d need to take before entering. I quickly shoved the needle into a vein along my arm and just as quickly pocketed the thing. The serum, as well as the pain, was immediate. My body shivered like a cold fever while the serum went through the process of blocking any receptors to my sense of smell or taste for the next four hours. A bit extreme, but my life depended on it. I’d just as well be another victim to them otherwise; another pawn if I breathed in the pheromones long enough or taste something tainted within the condo. I’m more useful to them alive than dead, at least that’s what I tell myself. As an extra precaution, I also preformed the white mage ritual of the inde odor praesidium so that my body would not give off any appetizing scents to my client. I adjusted my suit, and pulled even tighter onto my leather gloves, and use the spare key card to open the door. The key card reader chirped with approval and the wooden door slid open, beckoning me to enter.

Inside I was greeted by a soft, violet haze that told me she had already been hard at work. It took me a few seconds to realize that the serum had made me, thankfully, immune to the miasma, but past years of nearly lethal mistakes allowed to imagine what I was walking into. It would be the classic wall of death’s stench quickly followed by the usual sweet twinge of a demon’s hard work to mask the smell of corpses he or she might have caused earlier. It was a technique that served two purposes: the first being to trap any suspicious smells from oozing out and prompting someone to investigate, and if that didn’t work the miasma would work its magic to turn the curious victims into suggestible, brain-washed zombies whose minds could be wiped or bodies turned into a second meal until a cleaner like myself arrived. Either way, it involved leaving no witnesses. I took a few more steps into the dark and adjusted my eyes to the haze that my client had created throughout the whole condo. I saw the contours of the oak polished hard wood floor and a Persian carpet that lead to the living room area. There was another trail, this time made by discarded clothes that trailed beyond a flat screen T.V to the sliding door leading to a beautiful stone terrace with a working Jacuzzi. I did one more scan to take in the Neo Art Deco interior design of the condo and then I found them.

There were three men lying naked on the living room carpet; all who looked liked they’d all died violently from heart attacks at the ripe old age of eighty, but I recognized them as acquaintances that were no younger than I was. As I got closer to the corpses, I managed to recognizing one of  them crumpled on the floor: I had lunch with him last week as he was talking about his fiance and their plans for a honeymoon in Costa Rica. He told me her name, her age, her job. She had lied to him, of course. He didn’t have a clue, and wouldn’t have believed me if I told him. I had learned to accept these kinds of lies from my clients, especially when they told them to their retainers and my agreements to reinforce said lies. It was simply a reality of the world I lived in. However, the husks I saw nearly turned to ash did not soften the blow. As I looked at the bodies I felt a presence in the room that caused me to swallow and try to stifle the fear and bile building up in my stomach.

I felt around in my suit’s inner pocket for the retractable, electric prod that I’d taken in with me. This kind of client, whether it was demon or vampire, was way more unpredictable in this particular state of duress than in any other situation. Some would be polite enough to open the door and let you in to show you where the bodies are; others, after the reveal, will apologize profusely for the inconvenience (“sorry, we know you like to sleep during these hours” is a common one). However, there are those who will just wait for you to come in and simply watch quietly in the corner while smiling, before they decide you’re next. The worst of them will hide somewhere in their home and wait for you to arrive in order to fulfill a thrill that comes with hunting human prey. Because under those human exteriors of theirs, wearing expensive clothes, and sharing polite conversation lurks a beast trying to control their urge to feed and their willingness to kill to satisfy that hunger. But then again, when it comes to me, they’re not dealing with something completely human, either.

Copyright © 2017 Philip N.R Hauser