Vampiryirya, Acting Queen of the Damned. Chapter 2.

‘I, Vampiryirya, have come to collect my dry cleaning.’

‘Okie dokie then. Have you got your ticket poppet?’

‘Ticket? I have no ticket! I, Vampiryirya…’

‘No problem, I’ll just have a look on the computer. When did you bring it in?’

‘It was when the moon was at its apogee, when the owls filled the darkling vault of the sky, when the…’

‘Was it within the last fourteen days? Cos if it was longer than that it’ll have gone off the system. If it’s not collected within fourteen days it’ll have been put in the back.’

‘It was a day of tempest, a day of torment, a day of ecstasy…’

‘What, when we had that really heavy rain? That was, hold on, last time it really pissed down was Monday before last, I remember because I was booking my holiday on my lunch hour and all my brochures got soaked.’

‘Monday? All days are days of sorrow. For I am Vamp…’

‘So that’d be the 8th then. I’ll have a look for you. Could I just have that name again?’

‘My name is Va…’

‘Hold on, I have a Ms. V. Ampiryirya.’

‘Ms?’ She laughed scorn at the assistant, swirling her raven tresses, thick as blood, black as night. ‘Do you not see the bloodstone on my finger? I am the bride of darkness, the bethrothed of pain…’

‘Oh sorry, he must have taken it down wrong. So it says here it was three tartan wool skirts, and a floral duvet cover, yeah?’

‘You would mock me!’ Vampiryirya flashed her eyes, those pools of molten pitch, like the tarns at the gates of hell, like the pits of endless night that await the souls of those begotten in  damnation’s fire. ‘Tartan! Floral! I, Vampiryirya…’

‘Was that not it?’

‘My gowns are of midnight’s hue, my cloaks like the moonlit backs of ravens!’

‘Right. See, it would be so much easier if you’d kept your ticket. Cos what it says here is tartan skirts, three, and floral duvet cover, one. I can’t see any raven’s hue or, what was the other thing you said?’

‘Midnight! When the souls of the lost dance, when the antic musicke of longing creeps upon the tarry waters of the…’

‘Yup. No, sorry but it just isn’t in the system. You sure it wasn’t the tartan…?’

‘Be silent! Your chatter is distasteful to me!’ She turned, and addressed the queue that was building up behind her. ‘I am not mocked! Be warned! Cower before me! For I, Vampiryirya, will return!’

The girl behind the counter smiled and nodded.

‘With your ticket, yeah?’

Angry author: ‘I’m ready to sue.’

'Stunning new look.’

Controversial novelist Simon Nolan (Whitehawk) says he is ‘ready to take action’ over a publicity picture.

‘I’m quite angry about it,’ he said in a recent interview. When asked if he was ready to take action, he refused to rule it out. ‘I’m not ruling it out,’ he said. The picture will be used in a high profile media campaign to promote the novel, which is published on July 14. Industry insiders say the launch will go ahead, despite the furore over the picture.

Stephen Foy, from Outtasight Promotions, the agency who commissioned the portrait, said:

‘We stand by this picture, which we think is a strong and distinctive image. We wanted to give Nolan a stunning new look, redefine him, re-niche him for a whole new generation of consumers, and we think we’ve done exactly that. We’re very proud of the picture.’

Amita Mukerjee, socialite and publisher, was too drunk to comment, though she did issue the following statement:

‘I’m too drunk to comment.’

Associated Press.

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New novel slammed by nurses

‘A wasted opportunity.’

Whitehawk,  a controversial new novel by Simon Nolan, has been roundly condemned by nurses. In a recent review, Nursing Times (with Midwifery Today) had this to say;

‘The novel has nothing to recommend it to the modern nursing professional. There is nothing substantial here on any aspect of nursing (or midwifery) whatsoever. The reader will turn the pages in vain for material pertinent to the theory and practice of nursing (or midwifery). A wasted opportunity.’

Amita Mukerjee, publisher, said: ‘We have no statement to make at this point. We will be looking into these comments, which we find disappointing coming from such an august journal.’

Reuters.

Smoking ‘cool’, say scientists.

After years in which smoking has been labelled ’pathetic’, ‘bad for you’ and even ‘addictive’, scientists at The University of New South Wales have made the surprising discovery that that it is, in fact, ‘cool’. The shock findings, published in Nature later this month, have been warmly welcomed by the smoking community.

It’s cool.

‘We’ve suffered for years from this “uncool” thing,’ said Ida Maraschino, joint chair of TAB, a smokers’ co-operative and drop-in centre in Bournemouth. ‘These findings just confirm what our members have been saying consistently over the last decade or so: we just couldn’t get the evidence to back it up. Now these new findings are out there, we hope that some of those entrenched negative  attitudes will start to turn around.’

Researchers are now also investigating claims that smoking is ‘big’ and ‘clever’.

‘There’s so much we still don’t know,’ said Project Leader Todd Hunger. ‘These are exciting times for smokers.’

Cave painting? It’s just a fad.

The world through a 3D lens, or maybe two.

So I finally got round to seeing a film in 3D, Clash of the Titans. I saw it on a Thursday afternoon, and the auditorium was packed with possibly as many as 5 people. Nothing wrong with the film, but the 3D ads were far more entertaining, in particular an ad featuring a tennis ball that appeared miraculously hanging in the air, just out of reach. It’s not at all clear to me what 3D is adding to the experience of watching a film, except that you have to have peculiar glasses on that make you look like a late-era Roy Orbison and you are constantly distracting yourself from the action to make mental notes about how the 3D is distracting you from the action.

But then I alway was a late adopter. I found it agonising to throw away my Betamax video, and resisted CD’s for so long that I pretty much went straight from cassette to MP3. I can never see what’s wrong with what we’ve got. Cassette had so many advantages over CD, not the least of which was the lovely rich, compressed,  bassy analogue sound and the sheer rattly plasticky pleasure of the things. Betamax, as has been extensively and very boringly established, was in every way superior to VHS (…drones on about obsolete formats for three and a half hours…)  I only started internetting about 5 years ago: I just couldn’t see the point of it. It’ll never catch on, I would comment sagely. It’s just a fad. I am currently holding out against digital telly, and no doubt by the time I am finally forced to relent there will be something else. But I like what I’ve got, I think, in a plaintive little voice. If I had my way we would still all be living in caves and throwing rocks at each other to communicate. Direct, easy to understand, cheap. Win-win, I’d say.

But they’re going to turn the analogue signal off. They keep going on about it: it’s like some sinister curse. ‘Everything you know and value is about to be swept away,’ they say. ‘Rejoice!’

I saw some pictures of gaslight being used for the first time in domestic houses, early in the 19th Century: everyone looked like they’d just been caught out doing something that would previously have gone unremarked in the warm, flickery glow of candles. The new lights cast ugly shadows over everything and no one looked quite at ease anymore.

You know where you are with a cave and a rock. Mind you, I’m against this new fad for cave painting. It’ll never catch on, trust me. I mean, what’s wrong with the walls as they are?

Vampiryirya, Acting Queen of the Damned

Vampiryirya, Acting Queen of the Damned.

1.

She flung her magnificent hair back and stood, her black eyes flashing as the moon rose, blood red, behind her.

‘I, Vampiryirya, Acting Queen of all the Creatures of the Night, I speak!’

The crowd behind her murmured and seethed.

‘She speaks, she speaks. Vampiryirya speaks.’

Many of them stumbled on the name, and the effect was somewhat dampened.

‘For now is the hour of Magicke,’ she called, her cloak billowing in the occult wind that had sprung up out of nowhere. The final ‘ke’ of magicke needed a slight emphasis to differentiate it from just ordinary magic, of which she was, naturally, superbly contemptuous.

‘Magicke,’ murmured the crowd of vampires, whose raven hair and jet cloaks were also billowing in the occult wind, but somehow not quite as convincingly as hers. ‘It is the hour of magicke.’

‘Friends!’ she called, and the word echoed around her. ‘Gather, for we have much to do. Soon, oh soon, I will summon the great Magus, of whom we are all daughters. Sons, also,’ she added hastily.

‘We await,’ they called back in ragged unison.

Her eyes became darker still, darker than night, darker than darkness itself, as dark as the shadows that creep in the netherest regions of the pits of the damned. Darker than that, even.

‘Now, oh now,’ she called. ‘Oh great Magus, whose bosom has suckled us, whose tears have cleansed us, whose, er…’

‘Blood,’ someone prompted quietly.

‘Blood!’ she yelled, sending waves of delirium into the crowd. ‘Whose blood is our food, our life, our passion and our despair!’

The vampires were an unquiet presence behind her, hungry, tumultuous, rapt.

‘I summons you! In the name of Osiris and Isis, Temperegrath and Bewilderwind, Peregor and Kallingernacht, oh hear me!’

‘Hear her! Hear Vampiryirya.’ Again the name proved troublesome for many.

‘From your timeless slumber! From the depths of your agony and delirium, your endless captivity in the caverns of damnation. Come forth!’

The crowd wept and swayed, all eyes on the great door before her, encrusted with ancient wisdom and antic runes. A moment passed. An antic rune fell off.

‘Come oh great one! Your servants await you!’

And another moment.

The moon was gibbous, hectic, and at the fullest. The time was the most propitious, the hour was at hand, the crowd wept and sang and surged, a great hunger driving them to beat themselves with whips and chains, the blood crawling over their pallid flesh like monstrous black worms.

Some more moments passed. No Magus.

‘Ah,’ she said.

‘Right, let’s have a look at this then,’ said Belloc, pushing through the demented hoard of hellish creatures. ‘Scuse me, ta.’ He stood, a man of little over five feet with wispy ginger hair and thick glasses. ‘Right well, you see what your problem is here love?’

‘Speak, oh Belloc!’

‘Yeah. Well it’s your Portal to the Netherest Regions of the Damned, sweetheart,’ he said, scrutinising the great door with a little torch on a keyring. ‘See, it wasn’t put in right.’

‘Not right?’ she called.

‘Dear or dear. What comedian put this in for you? See the render? No, sorry darling but it’s all going to have to come out.’ He scraped at it with a little blade. ‘I mean, call this a Portal? Dear oh Lord. The soonest I could have a look at is Thursday.’

‘Thursday? Is that the propitious day?’ she demanded.

‘Yeah, have to be PM love cos I’m all backed up at the mo. I’ll just take some details.’ He produced a small duplicate book and a pen. ‘Name?’

‘My name,’ she announced magisterially, ‘is Vampiryirya, Acting Queen of…’

‘Yeah could you just spell that out for me my darling? Bit of a mouthful isn’t it? OK. Daytime phone?’

‘Daytime? Phone? I, Vampiryirya, have no phone! I communicate by the winds, by the owls, by the fleet messengers of the underworld…’

‘Yes, I understand all that my love, but I will be needing a daytime phone,’ Belloc said with somewhat strained patience. ‘And I’ll be needing a deposit.’

To Be Continued…