Undead for a Day

Undead for a Day

by

Chris Marie Green

Nancy Holder

Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

Raising the Darkness

Copyright 2012 – Chris Marie Green

Into the Fire

Copyright 2012– Nancy Holder

Trapped in Stone

Copyright 2012 – Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

Published by – GothicScapes ™

Cover art - Croco Designs

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction which have been used without permission. The publication of use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

Raising
 the Darkness

A Dawn Madison
Vampire Babylon story

by

Chris Marie Green

(AKA Christine Cody)

Dear Reader,

 

It’s been a few years since the last Vampire Babylon book,
Deep in the Woods
, but after the series ended, I knew that there were many, many adventures left for Dawn Madison and her team.

So I followed up the final book with a short story in a collection entitled
Those Who Fight Monsters
. In that tale, Dawn, our intrepid vampire hunter, was at her lowest point. But you can consider “Raising the Darkness,” the first Dawn Madison novella, to be a rebirth/reboot of sorts, since I’m hoping it will lead to a whole new path for these characters as well as for the world you first discovered in Vampire Babylon. And, if you’re a new reader, welcome! I wish you happy hunting and a fun GothicScapes time.

 

Chris

 

ONE

Just Before Midnight

 

 

The girl existed in a world of frozen motion, as if she had been fed a numb poison, then shut into a glass coffin that allowed her to see and hear and think her scattered thoughts.

But she could never move anything except for her eyes.

Never, ever move.

For a while now—
how
long? she kept asking herself over and over—she had been in this state. Anesthetized. Her limbs useless. Her mind asking questions and never quite understanding the twisted answers that seemed to fade away before she could grasp them.

Who am I?

Where am I?

What’s
happening?

Normally, her home was in a small white room, as blank as her existence. But tonight was different.

Tonight, images and sounds mixed round the girl as she lay on a pallet outside. In her peripheral vision, she could discern two other pallets nearby, with two more bodies. The dead of a starless night stretched above her, a bonfire burning to her right.

What? Why?

Most confusing of all was the group of people who circled the bonfire, all dressed in black robes and long, sleek gold costume masks that obscured their identities.

The girl could see one figure that stood out from the rest of them. It had its back to the fire and was facing the pallets. Its mask was silver, marked by a mouth hole that resembled a scream.

“We have waited three years for this Samhain,” it said, although “it” was clearly a woman, her accent-inflected words reminding the girl of a life she had once lived long ago.

But where?

When?

“Three years of looking in to the crystals, seeking answers,” the woman added, apparently addressing the others. “Three years of knowing that we failed in the task that our ancestors had succeeded in so easily over the generations.”

For some reason, the girl on the pallet began to feel
something
. It boiled in her, bringing back a slice of memory:
Another group in another time, gathered round her as she lay in a bed. She’d been hurting, her skin burned, her voice raw. One of them—Father?—was reaching down to her, his face stern. In his hand, he held a device, black and spindly, and he fixed it over her head...

A shudder attacked the girl, deep in her core, and she identified the feeling.

Rage.

And guilt? Failure?

But certainly rage, because it was that device—
a mind tuner? Was that what it was?
—that had made her this living corpse.

Then, on the tail of the other feelings, another word floated to the girl, and she was able to hang onto this abstract thought, as well.

Retired
.

As the Samhain moon shone down on her, a moon that she somehow knew held magic that these people were obviously using to some degree, the girl knew that
they
had retired her. She wasn’t certain what that meant, but she knew it was the reason she was on this pallet, unable to speak, no matter how hard she was trying.

The leader of the masked group peered over her shoulder, looking at every person who stood round the bonfire circle.

“Tonight,” she said, “we
will
see him rise again.”

Out of the corner of the girl’s eyes, she could see the other two prone bodies on either side of her. Men. Was this leader speaking of raising one of them?

A wave of agreement had traveled the robed and masked ranks, and the leader finally approached the pallets, her silver head tilted.

“Our warriors,” she said. “Our biggest disappoint-ments.”

Then she came to stand by the first pallet-bound man—a frail old chap with no hair, dressed in black with his hands folded over his stomach. The girl realized her hands were in the same position.

“This one—retired over seventy years ago for disobeying a direct security order,” the leader said. “And dormant ever since.”

She gestured to the man on the other side of the girl, another elderly gentleman, this one with long sideburns.

“Fifty years retired,” the leader said. “And also a failure on the job.”

Then the leader stood over the girl. The silver of the woman’s mask reflected the flicker of the bonfire.

Her voice took on an edge and a sort of sadness. “Last of all, Lilly. The greatest disappointment of them all.”

A wave of knowledge balanced inside the girl, and although that, too, threatened to escape her, she gripped it, perhaps thanks to the magical light of the Samhain moon shining down on her.

Her name was Lilly.

More knowledge suffused her, and she repeated it in her head, as if that would cause it to stay.

I am Lilly, the only female in generations to have taken up the responsibilities that were asked of the healthy males of my family. The only female to have failed so spectacularly in my duties to the master
.

Along with the answers came shame. Mortification.

And bitterness, as she embraced the sight of her father putting the mind tuner over her head, sending her into...this.

Retirement. A punishment. A way of doing away with failures like Lilly.

Above her, the leader had raised her hands over her hooded head, appealing to the sky, speaking in an ancient language that Lilly couldn’t understand, although she could reach into all the emerging memories and come out with what that language was.

The tongue her family used when they saw the future in their crystals.

Meratoliage
, she thought.
I am Lilly Meratoliage, and this is Samhain, a night when deep, dark magic is possible
.

The leader returned to the Queen’s English as she addressed the rest of the group. “Tonight,” she said, “as the line between our world and the otherworld breaks down, the Meratoliages ask for death and life to lend power to our cause. We ask for dark and light to come together.”

As one of the Meratoliages cast a sacrifice into the fire—the bones of animals?—something jumped inside Lilly, shocking her, and she jerked on her pallet.

The bitterness she had felt earlier doubled as she pictured her father again, plus the rest of the group round her sickbed, fixing that mind tuner on her, then sending her into near oblivion.

Retiring her.

“We ask for the veil between the worlds to be lifted for our cause!” the leader yelled.

Another sacrifice landed on the fire, then one more. Sparks rained upward, dancing into the darkness until they disappeared.

The silver-masked leader leaned back her head now, widening her arms to the sky. Meanwhile, the people Lilly knew to be her brothers and sisters and cousins—
interbreeding...we all come from the same blood
—repeated the leader’s words.

“We ask for the veil between the worlds to be lifted for our cause!”

“Bring the master back!” the leader cried.

With every summons, Lilly’s brain pieced itself together that much more.

Their master. He wasn’t technically dead, but the family must have seen in the crystals that he was near enough to deceased, captured and caged, rendered powerless by a former vampire hunter.

With that thought, Lilly jerked again, violently this time.

Dawn Madison
.

Fucking Dawn Madison
.

As Lilly’s spastic movements intensified, the leader bent next to her, ripping off her silver mask and then her hood.

Sandy hair, lime-green eyes, a slightly tilted nose. That was what Lilly had looked like, wasn’t it?

And she knew even more yet. In the past, the family had attempted to summon the dead heroes in their bloodline for aid, to no avail. And to resort to this—raising their punished and reviled retirees for the first time in three centuries—they had to have been desperate.

Didn’t they have any warrior prospects who were old enough or trained enough to do what needed to be done to raise the master?

One of the group by the bonfire gave a shout, but Lilly barely heard the word,
“Midnight!”

She felt the hour strike in her very bones, ringing, shuddering, jerking.

Everyone kept repeating the leader’s most recent words feverishly. “We ask for the veil between the worlds to be lifted for our cause!”

The leader’s voice had fallen to a whisper near Lilly’s ear as she kept spasming on her pallet.

“Make the darkness come alive. Make our undead rise!”

With one final, brutal jerk, Lilly bolted up on her pallet, screaming with all the rage, bitterness, and shock of being able to move again after staying frozen for so long. Fire was consuming her veins—a terrible, electrifying magic that she had never known as a human Meratoliage.

Not alive
, she thought.
But not dead, either...?

As she screamed again, it smacked of hatred. How could they bring her back when it hurt so much?

A feverish roar went up from the crowd as the power to move her limbs came back to Lilly, and she groped at her face, then the rest of her body. No more burns from her former injuries, no more bandages.

Healed, except inside, where there was so much fiery anguish.

“Lilly,” the leader said in a commanding voice, steeped in the magic of the night.

When Lilly whipped her gaze over to her, she realized that this woman’s name was Amber. A cousin.

“You will listen to me, Lilly,”
Amber said in the ancient Meratoliage tongue.

And Lilly understood every word now.

A new rush of knowledge overwhelmed her:
She
had caused a catastrophe in London, when her hot-headed actions had led to the master’s downfall...

Lilly began to scream again, but Amber smacked her.

Next to Lilly, the other two retirees had sprung awake on their pallets, too, but they did not have the screaming energy of Lilly. She recalled how the family had retired these two failed warriors long ago for their crimes against the cause. Now, so many years later, they would not be used to their aged bodies—they might even be weak with the passed years.

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