Thursday, February 13, 2020

Vampire's Day Soiree 2020: Liliana

Once again, it's that time of year when many people's thoughts turn to love and romance. Still, there are others whose thoughts turn to the darker side of things; namely vampires. 

Dear readers, welcome to my contribution to Holly Strange' ninth annual Vampires Day Soiree, which is an event held each and every February 14th as an alternative to the mainstream's Valentine's Day. And why not? Those of us into vampire lore and legend understand that these blood-drinking creatures can be...shall we say, quite sensuous when the situation calls for it?  

Today's offering is somewhat different from my usual fare. Instead of posting an excerpt from a story, as I usually do, I am providing a piece of flash fiction for your enjoyment--in full! The piece first appeared on a Facebook page called The Gothic Library, which was maintained and participation solicited by a young lady named Mindy Leah. To the best of my knowledge, the page no longer exists. Still, the piece is mine and will appear in my next published book. For today though, I offer you Liliana, and it appears below. 

Liliana stared at the man lying below her with contempt. Once a high government official and decision maker, he had been reduced to a sobbing, groveling, pleading shadow of what he had once been.
It had been easy for her to cross the border, unlike most of the people from her land. After all, no one would even notice a bat traversing what the people called la frontera under the cover of darkness. It had been equally easy to lure her victim out of his place of safety. She knew that no man could resist her charms, so she had simply enchanted him that night as he returned home. Then, she drove him to the secret place that she kept reserved for creatures such as him.
"Voy a matarte," she said quietly, seductively. "I'm going to kill you. "The only question is how."
The man looked up at her pleadingly. "No, please no! I'll do anything you want. I have plenty of money. You can have it. Just please don't harm me?”
“Ha! You plead for mercy after harming so many children? You want me to spare you after you ripped them from their families and placed them out in the hot desert sun to suffer? You never considered that some of we Hispanas might belong to the order of Dracul, the House of the Dragon. You and your arrogance! I despise you.”
As Liliana continued gazing down at him she considered the possibilities. Oh yes, she thought to herself, I will have the pleasure of drinking his blood. But I want to have a little fun first. Hmm….I could mercilessly tease and frustrate him with my feminine charms. That would be most enjoyable. Then again, I could invoke the powers of the Dragon, and slowly burn the flesh off this pitiful creature. Nada es imposible.
“Vas a sufrir,” she told him as he stared up at her without understanding. “¡Vas a sufrir mucho!”
Liliana lit a cigarette and blew the first puff of smoke into his face. She gazed down at him with a seductive smile while extending her free hand to stroke his face slowly, sensually.
“First I will finish my cigarette,” she informed him without breaking her smile. “Then my fun will begin. Once thing is certain, amigo, voy a matarte.” 

I hope you enjoyed that. And don't forget to head on over to Holly's Horrorland
in order to see what things vampire others have contributed. If you don't see Holly's post for the event, just scroll down a bit. As always, I'd like to thank Ms. Holly for hosting this event.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Short Ramblings

It has been a while since I've posted anything here, but I'd just like to mention that I have a new piece of short fiction available now at the Kindle Store. Here's the way I describe the story: 

"An overly shy college student, who is enamored with the long-deceased actress, Theda Bara, is transported one night across the veil that separates the realm of the living from that of the dead. It is here that, to his astonishment, the beautiful silent-film star appears, and seductively convinces him that, if he can only invoke her presence properly, she could join him on his side of the veil. As the young man returns to the earthly realm and begins working toward that goal, he is completely unaware of what his actions will lead to." 

As I've mentioned before, I don't use this particular blog for commercial purposes, so I'm simply providing a link here
b y which you can find more information if interested.
On another note, Valentine's Day is almost here, and that can mean only one thing; it's almost time for the ninth annual Vampire's Day Soiree,
which is hosted every year by Holly Strange. It's an event that I always look forward to, and enjoy participating in. 
This year will be no different, and instead of providing the reader with a excerpt from one of my vampire stories, this time around I plan on providing my readers with a full piece of vampire flash fiction. So, I hope that you'll join me for that. 

That's about all the news I have for now. For the first time in several years, we might be getting a few inches of snow within a couple of days, so I need to go and prepare for that as I'll likely be snowed in. For those of you who live in more northern climes, it might seem laughable that a person can get snowed in with only a few inches of snow, but trust me, it's very real. 

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you'll all tune in on the fourteenth for the Vampire's Day Soiree.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Vintage Halloween Pictures: 2019

All Hallows Eve is once again drawing near, and is now only one week away. That said, it's time for me to celebrate by keeping my own tradition of posting and honoring vintage Halloween art from years gone by. Although some of the following photos might pre-date anyone still living, those of us who are a bit older can likely, hearken back to a time when this type of art was still available for us to enjoy. Being a traditionalist about Halloween, I always enjoy bringing back these memories from Halloweens gone by; especially, those of my childhood. So then, Let's jump right into it. 

I don't believe I've ever seen this one before, but I like it. Not only does the witch look truly wicked and evil, but to me, she resembles Nosferatu, the vampire. The broomstick, of course, is right by her side as is her black cat, which looks equally sinister. The demons in the background only serve to further promote her credentials as a witch. Jack O' Lanterns are always welcome.

Not all of these apples seem happy about going into the bobbing tub, but into it they must go. The pumpkin doesn't seem to mind.

Bobbing for apples used to be a popular Halloween tradition. I remember doing it once, as a very young child. I also remember not being very successful in my efforts, as the participants had to attempt to bite into a an apple that was floating and bringing it up without one's hands. It was a difficult task indeed.

This one is just fun. Again, we have a black cat leading the Jack O' Lanterns in song while some bats are flying around. We can't forget the bats, can we?

Back in the day, All Hallows Eve wouldn't be complete without ghosts. At the time, they seemed to be the essence of the whole thing. I can clearly remember going trick or treating as a ghost. The costume was easy. You simply had Mom make holes in the middle of an old bed sheet for eyes and mouth. In this piece there is another ghoulish entity present, but judging from the hat, it could be a witch. Up in a tree branch is an owl. If you look closely, you can see its big, yellow eyes. 

As a final offering...well, what can I say? I just love this one. We have a pumpkin man looking on as a ghoul, dressed like the Grim Reaper, pulls a tombstone-like marker up from under the ground. A black cat looks on as does a witch. An owl is perched on the fencing while a ghost arrives on the scene. Bats hover in the background. In other words, this one pretty much has it all. It encapsulates the essence of Halloween; at least, what Halloween used to be. 

Still, in spite of the cultural changes and things that kids want to dress up as, is it not when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest? Nothing can change that. 

A Happy Halloween to all the readers of and visitors to The Gothic Embrace!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Gruesome Challenge: A Halloween Story

The month of October is upon us, and All Hallows Eve draws nigh. As we walk about on these autumn afternoons, death surrounds us. Dying leaves swirl to the ground in the afternoon breeze. Summer's crops, now harvested, leave in their wake browning leaves and stalks caught in death's embrace. There are those who say that as All Hallows Eve approaches, the veil between the worlds is thinnest. 

Perhaps, you the reader, would like to dismiss such notions with a dose of your modern-day rationality. Well, I have a tale to tell, for it was only a matter of nights ago when I, and my companion for that night, Kindle, witnessed irrefutable proof that the fabric of that veil had already worn thin as we were unexpectedly drawn into an unforgettable night of pure, unadulterated terror. Yes, we survived one of the most ghastly places imaginable. We took part in an event that could only have been orchestrated in the very depths of Hell. 

Our evening began simply enough in another town in another county where we had decided to stop for pizza. Everything seemed normal enough as we consumed the delicious pie and engaged in conversation. Other patrons were present doing the same; some, while consuming alcoholic beverages. 

Darkness had descended over the landscape as we contentedly departed the venue. As we walked out the door, a most unusual coach and driver pulled up in front of us. My mind flashed to scenes from Dracula films as I gazed upon the carriage. It resembled something that one would take to Dracula's castle. 
The driver's  appearance was unusual to say the least, for although he wore a top hat in a most gentlemanly fashion, his appearance was disconcerting. One look at this skeletal figure and his horse told us that, at the very least, he had not been a living resident of this world for quite some time. Yet, he moved. How could this be?

He spoke to us in a most unearthly voice; yet, the question he posed to us came as a challenge--one that we felt we must accept. "Are you worthy of Halloween?" he asked. "Are you truly creatures of the night? Are you true goths?"

"Why yes," came out response. "Halloween is our favorite night of the year."

"Then you must prove it," he informed us. "Come. Climb on my carriage and ride with me. Let us see if your words are true."

Although filled with trepidation, we could not resist the challenge. Within a flash, we were moving swiftly through the darkness of the night. The lights of the town faded behind us as we moved through the dark forest toward whatever awaited us. 

The carriage finally came to a stop in front of that which appeared to be an old abandoned warehouse. I descended first, and took my first look at our new surroundings. 

Kindle quickly followed. She was equally baffled by the surroundings at which he had brought us. 

"Have a frightful night!" he cried out with an insidious laugh, before speeding off into the night.

The carriage quickly disappeared from sight as we examined our new but unfamiliar surroundings. We were deeply concerned that we might meet other somewhat frightening characters that might be hidden in the deep woods that surrounded us. So, we opted for the relative safety of the warehouse. This is what we saw as we entered. 

The confusing configurations lined the ceiling in the entrance way, and they illuminated the rather large room.

"They're so unusual," my friend remarked to me. All I could do was nod in agreement as we moved deeper into the warehouse. 

We walked with caution as we went through another door, which led us into a darkened corridor. The door shut quickly behind us, locking us inside a restricted space, cutting us off from the illumination we had enjoyed. 

We had no choice but to advance toward a dimly lit room situated just ahead of us. An indescribable fear gripped at us as we stared in disbelief at what appeared in front of us. A seriously demented man, a doctor perhaps, was conducting a brutal experiment upon his unwilling victim, A helpless man was stretched out upon a bed, his head split open--his brains exposed, the mad doctor reveling in the evil he was performing!

We moved away from there as fast as we could, but horror after horror confronted us almost every step of the way. Diabolical creatures, perhaps once human, lunged at us from within their locked cells. Grotesque creatures hurled blood-curdling screams in our direction, even as they pulled on their chains in a vain attempt to break free and tear open our very flesh. The walking dead moved about the darkened halls of the structure. One was holding a baby, or what was left of it. It seemed that she herself had perhaps eaten alive her own offspring. Now, she grieved while holding the mutilated body she herself had created. Never had we felt such terror! Never had we witnessed such abominations! Then...suddenly...

We had made it to the outside and found ourselves in a fog-laden bog. The only way to attempt escape from this hellish place was forward on the narrow path of high ground that lay before us. There was no light; the moon had not as yet arisen. We had no idea what might await us in the murky waters just below our feet. Still, we had to press on, in spite of the screams of terror that surrounded us in that God-forbidden place. 

We moved with caution, listening for whatever sounds might alert us to danger. Without warning, a large serpentine creature, something prehistoric, lunged at us from behind a clutter of vegetation. We managed to escape its grasp only to hear the revving of a chainsaw from behind. We faced unspeakable terror in that place, but we faced it with as much bravery as we could muster, which wasn't much, really.

It seemed like hours before we could find our way back to that Warehouse of Fear, but we finally made it in tact, but not without narrowly escaping a ghoulish thing that attacked us with a chainsaw. Still, it was the ghoul's attempt to dismember us that forced us, unwittingly, back to the warehouse. Oh yes, the warehouse! We stood in front of that abominable place wondering what to do, wondering if we could somehow find the highway and make our way back to town, where we could find our vehicle and a sense of normality. It was at that moment that the coach driver emerged from the darkness to greet us anew. 

"You have passed the test," he informed us with his unsettling voice. "You survived the ordeal, and are worthy to be called creatures of the night, lovers of Halloween, and true goths. 

He first led us back into the structure's entrance hall. For the first time in who knows how long, we relaxed, and were thankful that we still had our skins--as well as our souls!

 I turned to the driver and asked, "how do we get back to the place where we met you.?"

"This way," he responded, heading toward the exit. 

For the first time, we took notice of a parking lot outside the warehouse. 

"Look at this vehicle," Kindle said, pointing to a hearse parked nearby. "Doesn't it look familiar?"

Indeed it was familiar--all too familiar! That hearse was well known in the town that we live in; it's reputation goes back decades. Still, I couldn't help but examine it closely for the first time myself. I just couldn't believe that it had appeared. 

The driver approached; and, opening the rear door said, "enter. This is your ride back. 

We both knew that had we not passed the test, the hearse could have represented something far more sinister for us. Still, we gladly got in and were whisked away--back to town--back to my friend's vehicle. 

So, now we know the truth; as should you, dear reader. As I sit here telling this story under the protection of afternoon sunlight, I know what horrors are afoot as All Hallows Eve approaches. Look! There's already activity taking place not very far from the cemeteries at which I live. Who knows what frightful things these two might wreak upon some unsuspecting souls this very night? 

Happy Halloween!

Bottom photo by Don Shreve