Sunday, January 11, 2009

Chapter 42: Alexei Is Waist-Deep In The Flood

TRIGGER WARNING: assault, macabre images, references to gruesome violence
Weds, November 18, 2074 8:07 pm: Amrita Beach- The Village of Kings Contrivance, Veronaville


This was the end of the road. Alexei's heels skidded in the gravel as he came to a halt at the edge of the sea. The fae girl that he'd been chasing foolishly plowed against the waves, shielding her chest with her arms. Water swelled from her ankles to her waist, prodding her lithe body like driftwood. Perhaps if he stood there long enough, he would witness her head disappearing beneath the brine. He grew weary of this game.


Alexei strolled casually into the surf, humming a few lines of Au Clair de la Lune and mentally preparing himself for the brutal cold of Belmori Sea. Despite the roaring tide, he could distinctly hear the palpitations of her heart and the terrified sobs that issued forth from her mouth- Both of which tantalized him. This one would thrash and scream. This one would pray until she lost consciousness. She was already putting up the sort of fight that would have deterred other vampires. But Alexei had acquired a taste for this caliber of prey and they were never easy. They knew what stalked them.


The fae stopped hauling herself forward, perhaps recognizing the futility of motion. Alexei crept up behind her so close that he could smell her. She was a creature of cumin and orange peel, cinnamon and saffron. Everything about her set his senses alight. She would be worth the struggle.

Eight times in the past three hours, she'd had attempted to kill him, completely exhausting her magic. Even up to her knees in salt water, she couldn't have passed an electric current to save her life. Alexei ran his wet fingers up her spine and she shivered violently.

"Here pretty, pretty," he purred.

"No..." Her voice was guttural and raw like the crackling burn of dry wood. It was the sound of great strength failing. Alexei wrapped his arms around her as she folded from fear and fatigue. Her tears were falling hard now, freezing at the tip of her nose. "Please don't hurt me," she pleaded. Alexei smirked viciously. God, did he hate to hear them beg.


"'Don't hurt me,' it says. After all the trouble that it has caused me, I aught to kill it just for shits and giggles."

"Please-" It was all that Alexei could take of her whining. He jerked her arm behind her back, cutting off her speech. She cried out in pain.


"Save it," he hissed. The fae quieted down to a pant, no doubt frightened of what would happen to her if she didn't. "That's better." He let go of her arm and placed a hand over her eyes. She clawed at him at first, attempting to pry his hand from her face but he held on firmly until she relaxed against his chest. She was like a beached fish, fully resigned to suffocation.

Alexei's shoes were filling fast with water and silt. The wind whipped around them, churning the sea at their waists. Alexei exhaled, uncovering her eyes and allowing his hand to roam over her abdomen. Burying his face in the crook of her neck, he lost himself in premature pangs of grief. Even with as desirable as she was, he knew that after he'd taken what he wanted, he would be left feeling hollow- A wretch drunk on his own self pity, standing waist-deep in the flood. There was no satisfaction left for him in the world.


He would spend what remained of eternity trying to get back the ardor he'd felt for that girl on the marsh ten years prior. Just listening to her bones splinter, he'd achieved an ecstasy that no mortal can know. All the glory of God had been in her. This was what Kvornan could not understand. Their union was a sacred act. As full of regret as he was, he had been born to eat her alive. And he didn't even know her name.

Alexei's right hand brushed against the pocket that contained his wallet. He kept a short lock of her hair in the plastic compartment where other people kept photographs of their loved ones. It was all that he had left.


With a heavy heart, he spun the fae around. Her lips were blue from cold though her teeth had stopped chattering some time ago. Alexei stroked her shoulders to generate some semblance of heat and she only stared blankly at him through half-closed lids. It was as though she were already dead. The first snowflakes appeared in the sky. He would need to get this over with before she died of hypothermia in his arms. He cleared his throat.

"I'm afraid that there is no feasible way for me not to hurt you but I promise that you will have forgotten about it by morning. I'll even heal the wounds for you." That last snapped her out of her spell. Her face contorted in fear.

"No! No. Leave the wounds," she rasped. Her eyes pleaded more strongly than her mouth and for a brief instant, he almost wanted comply. But that wasn't an option. He could leave no trace.

"You know I can't do that," he said. The girl crumpled in his arms and began sobbing anew. Even the small exchange of blood necessary to heal her would destroy her perfect light. She would be an abomination in the eyes of heaven almost as lowly as he was. Alexei stroked her back comfortingly. In a few short moments, they would share a life between them- Hers.

"Shhh," he soothed. "Relax, little girl. It isn't all bad." He wound her hair around wrist and forcefully jerked her head back. "In me, you will live forever."


May 10, 2050 5:12 am: Blue Lake- Sleighton, Pleasantview (Twenty-Four years earlier)

The vampire who called himself Vincent Randall had by degrees taken over the ship. Maybe it was nothing more than the severity of his glare but when he barked orders, even the most willful crewmembers fell into line. He was bitter and unapproachable, shrewd and hardworking. He talked like a fae, looked like a Townie and carried himself like a king. There wasn't much that piqued Alexei's curiosity at his age but this man was a notable exception.

"What are you waiting for, Garrison? Don't just stand there like a worthless sack of shit! Lower the starboard nets," Vincent yelled. Alexei scrambled like a child caught in the act of truancy.

"Sir," he shouted back affirmatively.


Water splashed up onto the deck, soaking through Alexei's skin. It was all he could do not to shudder in revulsion. Blue Lake was where Pleasantview's sewage ended its life. Were he to bathe thrice daily for the next hundred years, Alexei would still never feel clean again. He gave the netting a tug. The green sludge that coated the rope stained his palms and smelled remotely like rotting flesh. Maybe Bella Goth really was down there.

Vincent passed by him and their shoulders brushed. Alexei wondered how long he could keep this man's identity to himself.


"Bosun, there's something caught in the aft netting. Looks like... Tree branches or something. I think it's fixing to get stuck in the rudder," Marty Tyler, the ship's watchstander, called out. Vincent muttered obscenities under his breath, making his way across the deck.

"Start reeling it in. Landgraab, Garrison and Garrison get over here," Vincent shouted. Alexei tossed the starboard nets overboard and jogged towards the stern.


The net was already caught on something. Five men pulled the ropes taught and the netting refused to budge. The rope in Antoine's hand snapped clean away, burning his palms.

"Are you alright," Alexei shouted at his brother. Antoine nodded gravely, staring at his hands as though he had never seen them before.


"There's a pelvis in the net," Antoine reported. Alexei's eyebrows rose. Certainly, he had heard incorrectly.


"It's a- a pelvis. I saw it surface."

"Pick-up the slack, Garrison," Vincent screamed at Antoine. By now, the rest of the crew was joining in. Alexei felt his rope dislodge. "Ok men, bring it up on three. One! Two! Three!" Alexei heaved and swung his portion of the net onboard.


The men dropped the netting and backed away from it as it hit the deck. It was a terrible mess of rope, vegetation, excrement and something that did indeed look like tree branches. Alexei kicked the netting back as best he could, revealing a fully decayed set of human remains.

"Is it her," the watchstander asked. No one responded. Antoine bent down onto his knees, looking the body over. Alexei knew the damage that water could do but this body was too long dead to be Bella's. Antoine turned his eyes up to Alexei.

"It's a child," he declared solemnly.



  1. All able-bodied Townie men between the ages of 15-50 were ordered to begin dragging the lake for Bella's body on May 5, 2050.

  2. OMG!! I can't believe you updated while I was at work(see how hard I'm working right?)!! This chapter was so descriptive. I felt like I was there! The Hotness...not so hot right now! *shudders* He keeps a memento of poor Macaulay mom(if that is indeed who he killed that day). That's just...twisted! Ugh!

    And...what child is that in the lake? Man Pen! I LOVE this story!! LOL!

  3. Oh yeah, it was most definitely Macaulay's mom. If you go to BBL, there's a new post up with a couple of pictures of her, too. I resurrected her on the bf's comp.

    hehehe Don't let this story get in the way of your job, Phoenix! :D
    Actually, I would probably read Ravensworth at work too if the monitor at my desk didn't suck so much.

    Yeesch, would not want to meet the Hotness in a dark alley. Or a brightly lit alley. Or anywhere for that matter. When it occurred to me that he might have saved bits of her hair (and I use the plural because he has several locks of it stashed away in various places) I seriously wanted to throw-up.

    Within the next few chapters it should become apparent who the kid was (either in 44 or 45).

  4. Way to go with the description! Alexei sure was creepy in this chapter. I liked the flashback. So many people (myself included) do flashbacks so horribly, but this one turned out awesome :D

  5. Thanks, Van!

    *sigh* Flashbacks...

    Ok, I KNOW that doing flashbacks is a no-no (along with a myriad of other things that I do in this story) but given the nature of the story...

    Yeah, there's going to be quite a few flashbacks. XD

  6. Well, you do them well, so it's all good :D

  7. This chapter was just incredible, Pen. I feel rather dry-mouthed and ill at the moment, but I suppose that was the point. And I don't even like this sort of story. And I'm about to go to bed. *whimper*

    I think you did mention the reason for the title of your story, but I guess this flashback is the event referenced therein?

    The pictures are so gorgeous, I keep scrolling back and looooooking... Is that snow starting to fall in the first one? *dies of gorgeous*

  8. Hmmm I may have mentioned the reason for the title somewhere in the comments. But here was my reasoning, all itemized:

    1) There are certain recurring themes in this story and water is probably the biggest. Water functions as a symbol for memory in DBL. The muddy filth of Blue Lake (other than answering the practical question of where Pleasantview's waste water goes) represents the vile nature of the memories that my main characters are dealing with. NOT that I'm asking/expecting you out there in Readerland to think analytically about the story. It ain't that sorta party!

    2) Bella Goth's body was never found in Blue Lake or anywhere else. The title is then about looking for answers in the wrong places. Which brings me to the next item-

    3) Although Bella Goth's body was never found, the body they did find has everything to do with her disappearance. So take from that what you will. ;)

    4) The title is also a reference to this poem by Yusef Komunyaka:

    When I was writing this chapter, I thought to myself that there could have been a story just about the process of dragging the lake. It wouldn't have had any fantasy elements- Just a story about working-class men whose lives were interrupted by having to do the unspeakable work of dragging the lake.

    And thanks, Lothere! I was in love with these pictures too. After I took them, I just kept staring! There was something about the color schemes that was drawing me in. In the very first picture, that's actually the sandy ground behind him.

    The pictures for the first half of the chapter were totally inspired by "A Madman Meets A Nightmare". Before I shot it, I remembered that chapter as being a stunning beach scene done with no Bon Voyage.

    Hmmm it seems like there was something else I wanted to mention. Ah well.

    "The Village of Kings Contrivance" is the name of a real place in Maryland. I've never been there but I've driven by. I have the feeling that it is a boring, suburban planned community. But the name has always kinda stuck with me.

  9. Seas and trees, seas and trees... I want BV just for the landscaping. I just had to do a beach scene... with photoshop. :-(

    Ah yes I remember reading that poem (and appreciating it by the way... the only poetry I read anymore comes at me by way of Poetry Daily ( since it comes in bite-sized RSS feeds :-\). But I love how you worked the poem into the story and the story into the poem. You may not intend for us to be analytical with the story, but like a watercolor painting, it's that kind of layering that gives a sense of depth. If we know it's there it's just something else to savor. I actually use water as a metaphor for memory in my story too, but in my case it's forgetfulness, as in Lethe. OTOH in your case Blue Lake seems like things they wish they could forget, but they don't quite stay submerged...

    I LOVED that name "The Village of Kings Contrivance". I thought it was so cool I assumed it was just a part of Maxis lore, like Pleasantview and all the rest. Kings Contrivance sounds like it could be a Colonial New England name, but according to my googling it's indeed a planned community named after a restaurant that was there, and the restaurant only dates to 1975. Unable to find the source of the name of that. Aw, shucks. I feel rather disappointed now. Alred would totally name a village "King's Contrivance" if someone gave him the idea. Maybe someone will. :-|

  10. Ooo there are some really cool trees in BV. There's one that's like a sort of gnarly scrub pine looking thing that would be so cool for my marsh scenes. Some of the architectural elements included with BV are pretty cool too. Temple ruins and the like. If I were to go through the pains of installing another expansion, I might consider BV. But my game runs so painfully slow as it is. I may just have to resign myself to using terrain paints, fake water and base game trees. Not that that's the worst thing in the world.

    A watercolor painting! That's such a great metaphor. Not only because of the added depth that the layering brings but also the added focus.

    Everything eventually washes ashore in this story, no matter how long it has managed to remain submerged. For me, this quality is inherent to truth in general. The truth will out!

    But then there is also the question of the reliability of memory. Like Alexei says in this chapter, he knows the damage that water can do.

  11. Penelope, holy heck that was awesome. I'm a ho'bag for a good shot, and your angles are intense. I LOVE LOVE LOVE what you did with the lighting. Totally fit the ambience. I wish my comp wasn't such buttface when it came to lighting mods, because I really thing the lighting does so much to help the flow, and yours was just perfect.

    I said three things outloud while reading:

    1. "He talked like a fae, looked like a Townie and carried himself like a king"

    That is, possibly, the most incredible description of a character I've ever come across.

    2. Alexei is freaking scary. It's so unfortunate that he's also freaking hot.


    Penelope you thrill me. I'm thrilled.

  12. Thanks Veron!! I am glad to have thrilled you.

    It's a strange experience for me, writing from the perspective of someone whose only redeeming feature is his looks. I have a tendency to want to present characters that, no matter how flawed, are still essentially likable- Antiheroes as opposed to just plain villains. So when working with Alexei, I have to kind of fight with myself not to do anything that makes the reader think, "Ok, he's done some bad things but they're justifiable because of x, y and z. Also, even though such and such has happened to him, he still manages to be blank."

    I'm still fiddling with my lighting and I'm well chuffed that this one turned out the way I wanted it to. The lighting was just so wrong in some of my past chapters. *shakes head* But I actually like your lighting. Everything looks so crisp- It just seems to fit somehow. And your strip club scenes were what inspired me to start playing around with color.

    When I started this story, I didn't think that we would ever actually see the dragging of the lake because I didn't think that I had any living characters that had worked on one of the boats. Then I started to flesh out Kvornan's life story and I realized that (huzzah!) I could sneak it in after all.

  13. Can I just mention almost 2 years later that your warning to this is possibly just as awesome as the post itself? Mentioned.

  14. Oh fuckwads of fire, two years and I have written how many chapters???? ARRRRGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

    hehe, Thank you though. :D