Guest Blog: From Beast to Man and Back Again

From Beast To Man And Back Again by John C. Adams

Evolutionary impulses drag us back to when we came. Whether we like it or not, they’re always there. There’s only so much we can do to fight against them. We both hope and fear that the natural human impulse to regress will take over. Even worse, in horror fiction, modern science seems to be getting in on the act.

In the 1984 film The Company of Wolves (dir: Neil Jordan), the childhood tale of Little Red Riding Hood is given a modern makeover. Red drifts into the forest and meets a handsome stranger, whereupon Granny’s advice goes right out the window. Well, sexual appetite does that to you. It’s a shame that Red can’t remember the cautionary element of Granny’s werewolf tale, as Angela Lansbury is quick to point out: not to trust a man who’s too proud to piss into a chamber pot. Let’s just say that in Granny’s tale the young bride’s new husband answers the Call of Nature in more sense than one.

The prime mover of sexual appetite is as good a reason to junk steady adult advice as any.

Fairy stories and folk tales abound with examples of spontaneous changes in shape from man to beast and back again. Those old tales are so central to our cultural identity, developed over hundreds of years in writing and for much longer before that via the oral tradition, that it’s no surprise that they are still cropping up in films and TV today.

If it’s natural for us to long to return to our genetic origins, it’s no surprise that modern science isn’t slow in embracing the opportunities to engineer this for us. And big business being what it is, the profit motive lies right at the heart of it.

In Graham Masterton’s novel Flesh and Blood, the Spellman Institute of Genetics is conducting experiments to implant human genetic material into pigs. Animal rights activists have plenty to say on that subject and are lobbying for a US-wide law banning testing on animals. The pig research (Masterton says his wife always called this book ‘the pig novel’) becomes a cause celebre for them. The pig, Captain Black, is as terrifying as you’d expect:

“His body was awesome enough, but his face made Nathan swallow in discomfort. It was more like the face of a giant werewolf than a hog: it was covered all over in thick glossy black hair, with a hideously flattened snout. Two curved incisors rose from his lower jaw, and strings of drool swung with every step he took.”

Mankind just can’t seem to help themselves from meddling in the mix of human and animal DNA when there’s a commercial excuse for it. But in the 2009 film Splice (dir: Vincenzo Natali) the insanity of experimentation mixing human with animal DNA reaches new heights when two leading scientists splice the DNA of a bird with that of a human. Yikes!

As a species, we are so prone to egotism that we want to be the ones to push the boundaries of creation. Like modern-day Dr. Frankensteins, it’s all about power over the hideous monstrosities we generate.

Like any form of meddling, the best lesson of all is just to leave well enough alone. If only it were that simple…

John C Adams is a horror and fantasy writer. ‘Souls For The Master‘ is available on Amazon and Smashwords.

http://johncadams.wix.com/johnadamssf

Short Bio

John C Adams is a Contributing Editor for the Aeon Award and Albedo One Magazine, and a Reviewer with Schlock! Webzine.

You can read John’s short fiction in anthologies from Horrified Press, Lycan Valley Press, and many others. 

A non-binary gendered writer, John has also had fiction published in The Horror Zine, Devolution Z magazine and many other smaller magazines.

John’s fantasy novel ‘Aspatria’ and futuristic horror novel Souls for the Master are both available on Kindle and via Smashwords.

John lives in rural Northumberland, UK, and is a non-practising solicitor.

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Guest Blog: Vampires-Animated Corpses-By Brian McKinley

Vampires – Animated Corpses by Brian McKinley

This is what most people in Western culture think of when they hear the word vampire. But, as you’ll see, there are nearly as many varieties of animated corpse vampires as there are every other kind.

The Vetal of the Indian subcontinent is an example of a vampire who straddles categories. It’s a spirit that possesses and animates corpses and in many tales it has sorcerous powers. In the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the Vetal are said to be a race of divine vampiric beings who appear half human and half bat. However, like other vampires we’ve seen, the Vetal can possess a human corpse in order to disguise itself, using fresh blood to keep the body from decay. Feeding on the intoxicated, the insane, and others whom society would not be likely to believe, the Vetal enters a home by use of a magic thread down the chimney—so those of us with central air are safe. Not content simply with blood, it consumes intestines and excrement as well.

Despite this unsavory aspect, the Vetal is far from a mindless killer. In fact, its’ most famous appearance is in the tale of King Vikram in which one of these creatures thwarts twenty four attempts to capture it by telling tales which all end in a riddle. Later, the vampire gives the king advice on how to turn the tables on a trap which his enemy has planned.

In some versions, a Vetal is created when a child dies and doesn’t receive proper funeral rites. This is similar to creation methods found in vampires of surrounding regions like the Greek peninsula, China, and the Balkans. Turning our attention to China, no survey of vampire folklore would be complete without the Jiangshi, the infamous hopping vampire.

One of the most distinctive and memorable tales from around the globe, the Jiangshi is created in a number of ways: cats jumping over fresh corpses, moonlight shining down on fresh corpses, and black magic. In its early form, it is literally just a corpse stiff with rigor mortis who hops around and attacks either on its own or under the command of a sorcerer. It is difficult to destroy in this form, but relatively easy to capture or elude, as it fears running water, can’t move in anything but a straight line, and has a compulsion to stop and count rice, peas, or iron filings thrown in its direction. While doing that, you sweep them away and the Jiangshi follows so that it can resume counting.

As it ages, however, it is said to grow long white or green fur, limber up, and gain the ability to fly and shape-shift into mist and animals. Now, a lot of these traits—aside from the fur—sound pretty familiar, right? My personal theory is that the Chinese incorporated elements from other vampire legends into their own. Anyway, by this point, Jiangshi are nearly indestructible and need to be burned completely in order to be rid of them.

Which brings us to Greece and the Vrykolaka. These can be created by a person living a bad life, being excommunicated by the church, committing suicide, and many of the other typical methods we’ve seen. One unique method is simply by being a werewolf in life, which is a condition one is born with in Greek culture. When those come back from the dead, they’re called Varkolaks. When Vrykolakas rise from the grave, it looks every bit like the bloated, animated corpse that it is. It will go to the homes of the people it knew in life and knock upon their doors. Whoever has the misfortune to answer, the vrykolaka will ruthlessly attack by day or by night. Victims who happen to survive the attack of a vrykolaka will become this type of vampire themselves when they die unless they eat some of the dirt from the grave of the body that attacked him.

The vrykolaka can be prevented from attacking if its resting place is found. Decapitating the vampire and hiding its head where it cannot be found is used in modern times, but the traditional method of rendering the body to ash is the most certain and effective. The only way to destroy a vrykolaka that was created through excommunication is to have a priest perform a special ceremony over the body followed immediately by either of the methods of destruction previously mentioned. Honestly, though, this one has more regional variations than almost any other.

The Draugr of Iceland was a fearsome revenant exists solely to guard its treasure, which Viking warriors were traditionally buried with. Draugrs could do strange tricks like increasing their body weight and growing or shrinking, move freely through earth and stone, conjure storms, and see the future. What’s more, draugrs were said to be impervious to mundane weapons and that the only way they could be killed was by being wrestled into submission by a hero and then beheaded. Some scholars believe that Grendel of the Beowulf saga was a draugr, and others think that we get the concept of the ogre, troll, and dragon from these legends as well.

Finally, we come to the guy that most of us think of when we think of a traditional vampire: the Upyr. Known by many regional variations including Upire, upior, upiri, vapir, and wampyr, this is most likely the word that eventually gave us the term vampire. Russia’s version has iron teeth that allow it to chew out of its grave and eat the heart from its victim’s chest. Unlike our modern version, though, it tends to be active between noon and midnight—kind of like me. The Polish variety has a stinger on the end of its tongue to drain blood with and it likes to sleep in a bath of blood. In Germany, it resembles the Greek Vrykolaka but needs to be destroyed with a stake made of mountain ash in a single blow. Call Buffy for that one. In other Slavic countries, the body has to be dug up and re-buried face-down so that the suspected vampire can’t dig its way out anymore. In other areas, you hear about garlic, prayers, and holy water.

And that most famous of vampire terms, Nosferatu? Where’s he? Well, there’s some debate about that. The term itself comes from Greek and means plague-bearer; many believe that it had nothing at all to do with vampires until Emily Gerard used it in her book on Transylvania, which Bram Stoker based much of his folklore in Dracula on. Others insist that there is a particularly sexually oriented vampire by that name in central and Eastern Europe, known to return to its home and try to resume its old life. To me, this also sounds a lot like some of the stories of the Vrykolaka, but I could be wrong.

In any event, you’ve probably noticed that almost none of these types fit all the tropes of the modern vampire archetype and that’s true. Today’s vampire is an ever-changing amalgamation of various folklores and that’s what makes them so captivating.

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Brian McKinley doesn’t really exist. He’s a constructed mortal identity used by a relatively young Vampyr in order to publish the truth about The Order. Due to the world-wide influence of The Order and its minions, these accounts must all be published as fiction. Sometimes the names and sequence of events have been changed to protect the innocent, the guilty, and to keep from getting sued.

Guest Blog: Otherworldly Vampires by Brian Mckinley

Otherworldly Vampires by Brian McKinley

This is, admittedly, a catch-all category for vampiric creatures of several varieties with the common element being that they originate from a non-human source. Demons, ghosts, spirits, gods, and even fairies are found here. Yes, I said faeries, so we’ll start there. Most of the cutesy, Tolkien-esque fae of our modern folklore come to us thanks to people like the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen and a general romanticizing that took place throughout the Victorian age. In their earlier, pre-Christian forms, many fae creatures had distinctly vampiric characteristics. In my post on “Irish Vampires,” I discussed the Leanan-Sidhe and Baobahn-Sith as well as the White Ladies. Our final example of vampiric fae comes from Germany and it’s perhaps the most surprising.

The Alp is also considered a demon in Germanic lore, but in a lot of ways their fae and demons are closely related. A creature described in many ways due to its ability to shape-shift, its one consistent feature is the white hat, or cap of concealment, it wears because it is the source of its power. The Alp is known for creeping into beds of women at night and drinking blood from the nipples. It also enjoys breast milk if the woman is lactating. The crushing weight of the alp on the chest causes horrible nightmares to the victim. These dreams even had a name: alpdrucke or elf dream. That’s because the alp is the basis for the English word elf. The resemblance can be seen a bit more in some of the alp’s more mischievous attributes.

In addition to its’ bloodlust, they were also known to be responsible for knotting people’s hair while they slept or re-diapering babies with soiled diapers. Not even livestock were safe from the terror of the alp, as it was also known to attack horses, geese, and rabbits—crushing them to death under its weight. This fearsome creature was rather easily warded off, however, by such methods as keeping your shoes beside the bed and pointed at the door while you slept, protective wards, prayers, and pentagrams, or keeping a mirror on your chest while you slept. If you could manage to steal the hat off its head, the alp would lose all its power could be killed by putting a lemon in its mouth.
That’s right. A vampire destroyed by citrus, you heard it here. The alp has a female counterpart called the Mara, the basis for the term nightmare. It attacks men in their sleep, also crushing their chests and drinking their blood, but the Mara’s attacks tend to be more fatal. However, you probably noticed a similarity between the Alp and another famous pair of demons: the succubus and incubus. Which brings us to my next sub-category of otherworldly being vampires: demons, ghosts, and spirits.

The Greeks gave us the Lamia and the Empouse. With the upper bodies of women and lower bodies resembling snakes, the Lamia lived in deserts and cemeteries, eating the flesh and drinking the blood of infants. Later Greek storytellers gave the Lamia a tragic backstory, saying that the first Lamia was a queen of Lybia. Her beauty attracted the attention of Zeus who took her as a lover. Par for the course in these stories, Zeus’ wife Hera became terribly jealous and punished Lamia by destroying her children. In some versions, Hera tricks Lamia into eating her own children. This drove Lamia insane with grief and she went on a horrific murder spree, killing the babies of her people. Additionally, she lured men into secluded alleys for sex and drank their blood. Over time, her terrible crimes transformed her into the hideous creature that her name became synonymous with. However, by aligning herself with the Empouse—more on them in a second—she learned to shape-shift and disguise her appearance with illusion, as did her progeny.

The Empouse were the vampiric demon spawn of the witch goddess Hecate, who acted as her attendants. Red-haired, they possessed the legs of mules and an insatiable appetite for human flesh. As with many other varieties I’ve described, they possessed the ability to appear as beautiful women in order to seduce men, who they would drain of their life energy during sex before consuming them. Luckily, if a man was able to resist the allure of the Empouse’s disguise, it was easy to run away from them as their legs made them very slow. The half-woman, half-beast theme appears in several types of vampires, including the original Mermaids who dragged shipwrecked sailors below the waves and drank their blood.

Similar to the demon women in Greece and India, the Japanese have the Yuki Ona (Oo-key Own-a), or “snow woman.” Appearing as a beautiful woman in a white kimono with pale skin, the Yuki Ona only hunts in the winter where her appearance gives her the perfect camouflage. Like the Lamia or Empouse, it is known to lure men into sex so it can drain their life energy, but just as often is said to simply lead travelers astray until they succumb to the elements or freeze them with her icy breath. On occasion, they are also said to appear to parents in search of a child, appearing to hold it in her arms. When the parents come to claim it, of course, the snow woman freezes them. Unlike most of the others, however, legends do say that if a potential victim is able to plead for his life pitiably enough to melt the cold heart of the Yuki Ona, then she will spare him.

Then there’s the K’uei (GUAY) of China, which looks like a translucent, dark humanoid with black hair and dark eyes. It is created when a person’s lower soul doesn’t leave his body because he led a dishonest life or committed suicide. The K’uei feeds on the emotions of evil people and is somewhat harmless by the standards of most vampires. Agile and intelligent, it’s also a somewhat cowardly creature and, as long as it’s left alone to feed, it generally doesn’t harm anyone. Should they be interrupted while feeding, the K’uei usually resorts to using its magic to curse that person. They love battlefields and the chaos of war, but holy artifacts and holy ground will repel them. There are several types of K’ueis in Chinese lore who all feed on different things, including the Hsi-Hsue- Keui (Zi-Zu-Guay) whose name translates to “suck blood demon” so you can guess what that one feeds on.

This same idea appears in Japan as the Gaki and in India and its surrounding regions as the preta. The souls of those who were exceptionally greedy or evil in life return, condemned to consume blood or other, even more repugnant, substances. In many stories these creatures are invisible while in others they take the form of monstrous humanoid figures with sharp teeth and claws, but a narrow neck; gaunt and starved like the Native American cannibal spirit, the Wendigo.

Even stranger than demons and ghosts are the strange and unique vampires that don’t fall into any neat category. The monsters like the famous goat-sucking Chupacabra of Mexico, which has taken numerous forms over the centuries but preys almost exclusively on livestock, to the Nabeshima (Nob- BAY- she- ma) of Japan. That one is a magical cat with two tails which can shape-shift into a specific person its victim knows in order to get close. Then it strangles its victim unconscious and drinks their blood.

Back in Africa, the Sasabonsam (Sa-so-BUN-sum) snatches up passers-by from the branches of cotton trees where it hides. A bat-like creature the size of a man with huge wings and a body covered in hair, it pulls its victims up into the trees where it tears their heads off and drinks their blood. These fearsome beasts are sometimes commanded by witch vampires I mentioned earlier, making them even more dangerous. Then there are less terrifying specimens like the Spanish hellhound called The Dip, which has black hair and glowing red eyes and … a lame leg. Don’t ask me why that’s scary…

Another amusing creature from Japan is the Kappa, little green child-like turtle people who live in lakes and ponds and can be appeased with cucumbers…and blood! Normally, they attack livestock who come to the water to drink, much like alligators and crocodiles. However, these most Japanese of monsters are also sticklers for courtesy and if one comes out of the water to attack a human, the person should quickly bow to it. The kappa will pause to return the bow, at which point the water will pour out of its bowl-like head and render it powerless. As mentioned before, you can also give them cucumbers, even going so far as to write your family name on a cucumber to gain protection for all the members of your family. Far from mindless, ravenous killers, they are also reputed to be skilled in medicine and teaching and is known to honor contracts made with it.

Two of the strangest, though, have to be the Filipino Aswang and the Australian Yara-Ma-Yahoo. The Aswang is another vampire that hides in a human guise during the day and then transforms—this time into a bird—in order to hunt. It flies to the house of its intended victim, usually a child, and perches on the roof directly over the spot where its prey lies sleeping. Then it sends its long, tube-like tongue into the house. Using a barb on the end of its tongue, it pierces a small hole in the flesh and sips its meal. When the Aswang has finished, it then flies back to its home where it will breastfeed its own children. You can come up with your own joke for that one.

For me, though, the prize for oddest vampire goes to the Yara-Ma-Yahoo and not just for its name. Like the Sasanbosam, it’s an ambush predator that hides up in a tree, but that’s where the similarities end. Described as a very short, red-skinned man with an enormous head and suckers on its hands and feet, it hides from the sun and generally attacks at night. Once it grabs its prey, it sucks their blood through its hand and foot suckers. Then it swallows the body whole. But here’s the best part: Sometime later, it vomits the person back up, completely whole and alive! They say that if it happens to you enough times, though, you get a little shorter each time until you become the same size as the vampire, and then your skin turns red, and then you become one yourself.

Well, that’s enough for this time. Join me next time when I unearth the Animated Corpses of folklore!

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Brian McKinley doesn’t really exist. He’s a constructed mortal identity used by a relatively young Vampyr in order to publish the truth about The Order. Due to the world-wide influence of The Order and its minions, these accounts must all be published as fiction. Sometimes the names and sequence of events have been changed to protect the innocent, the guilty, and to keep from getting sued.

Guest Blog: Vampire Witches by Brian McKinley

Guest Blog by Brian McKinley

To be clear, I’m not talking about Wiccans or other modern pagans who identify as witches nowadays. In the ancient world, all through medieval times, and up until very recently, the witch was a figure of black magic and malevolence. They often symbolized everything that a culture considered evil or taboo including things like blood-drinking and cannibalism. Most “living vampires” of folklore fall into this category.

In Ancient Rome, the Strix, sometimes also called Striga, were vampiric witches who primarily preyed upon children. They have their roots in Ancient Greek myth, where it was said that the original Strix was a couple condemned for cannibalism and transformed into large owls. Unlike witches of many other cultures , these were considered to be owl creatures who could take human form. After gathering together in a large coven and celebrating, they would fly into the night to spot unprotected children they could attack. In human form, they were often described as an old, haggard woman.

Later, in Romania, this idea may have morphed into the Strigoii: a living male witch with red hair, blue eyes, and two hearts who would send his soul out at night to drain animals and people of their life-energy. Strigoii were the seventh son of a seventh son and, when one died, it would return from the dead as a Strigoii Morti. In this form, it was a blood-drinker who was repulsed by the scent or presence of garlic—which may be where Bram Stoker got this piece of vampire lore.

In the Ghana and Tongo regions of Africa, there is the Adze: a strange creature whose natural form is that of a firefly or a ball of light, but who often takes possession of the body of a tribal sorcerer. Witches of this type are believed to have the power to astral project, speak to the dead, and use spirits to harm crops, livestock, and other people. These creatures are attracted to the blood of the tribe’s most beautiful children, but can be staved off with offerings of coconut milk and palm oil. There is generally no reliable way to detect an Adze, but it can be captured outside of its human form and destroyed.

Legends on the Gold Coast tell of the Obayifo, a born witch vampire whose draining of its victims is a long and painful process that can take days or even weeks. The Obayifo leaves its body to accomplish this during the night, but can also transform itself into a variety of animals with the help of a magical elixir.

Then there’s the Axeman (Ax-amen) is another African witch vampire with some unusual traits. For one, it takes the form of a bat to scout villages—one of very few folkloric vampires to actually have a bat connection—and find its victims. In this case, that victim is someone sleeping with a foot exposed so that it can cut a very small hole in the big toe and drink the blood. That’s right, even vampires can have a foot fetish.

In a similar vein, the native people of Central and South America had the Tlaciques (Tal-a-kays). Always female, these living witch-vampires came about as a spontaneous condition that occurred shortly after the onset of puberty with almost no warning. The Tlaciques drank the blood of infants, family members, or enemies four times a month while their family often protected their secret out of shame. They could detach the top half of their bodies and transform into various animals, like turkeys or vultures, or balls of light to travel and hunt. It was even said that they had the ability to hypnotize their prey into committing suicide. In contrast to the standard witches’ coven, the Tlaciques were thought to be territorial and organized exclusive hunting areas with others of their kind in order to minimize the chance of their detection.

Like many of the witches described earlier, the Bruja (Bru-ha) of Spain also lead a double life, appearing as an ordinary woman during the day while meeting with her coven every Tuesday and Friday night. This girls’ night out consists of devil worshiping and the practice of black magic techniques like the evil eye and the transformation into animals like ants, doves, geese, and rats. Like most vampiric witches, Bruja preferred to attack children and lone travelers to drain them of blood. One interesting element was that protections against attack by a Bruja included the use of garlic, which is not as common in vampire folklore as Hollywood would have us believe. Male versions were not unheard-of and were called Brujo. Unlike most folkloric vampires, there’s no known method of destroying a Bruja, only wards and ways to discourage attack.

Finally, the strangest of the bunch, the Malaysian Penangglan, also known as the Tanggal. A seemingly-normal woman by day, by night it detaches its head from its body and flies off into the night, dangling its entrails! In some versions, it achieves flight by flapping its ears and lungs like wings. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. Well, obviously someone did, but it wasn’t me.

Anyway, its victims are, predictably, usually young children, from which the Penanggalan drains blood to keep itself young. Often in stories, the Penangglan takes the role of a midwife in her human guise in order to scope out potential victims. There’s no traditional way to destroy a Penangglan, but it can be deterred by garlic and by placing thorny branches on the roof of the home which will catch the creature’s dangling intestines. Since the creature requires a large vat of vinegar after it feeds—because it has to shrink its’ bloated, swollen entrails, of course—another remedy is to find the Penangglan’s house while it’s out and spill its vinegar. Because of course then it can’t squeeze back into its’ body, right? Brilliant.

At which point I guess it just, what? Lies there and glares at you? Slinks away and becomes someone else’s problem? What kind of solution is that? This is one of many reasons why I have a hard time taking the Penangglan seriously as a threat, though it didn’t stop this idea from spreading into several other Asian cultures including the Philippines, Japan, and India where you can find variations on the flying-head-with-entrails theme. In some of those versions, at least, there are ways to kill the head once you’ve disposed of the body and vinegar.

That’s it for this round. In my next post, I’ll explore vampires with otherworldly origins.

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Brian McKinley doesn’t really exist. He’s a constructed mortal identity used by a relatively young Vampyr in order to publish the truth about The Order. Due to the world-wide influence of The Order and its minions, these accounts must all be published as fiction. Sometimes the names and sequence of events have been changed to protect the innocent, the guilty, and to keep from getting sued.

Brian is no longer a typical Vampyr and, for this reason, lives in hiding and writes from a secret location. The real “Brian” lives a life of danger and excitement; he loves Star Trek, Game of Thrones, and gangster movies as much as he loves chicken fried steak. And he really loves chicken fried steak! He’s a reader, a role-player, and a dreamer. He’s lived many lifetimes and is eager to share as many of them as possible with his readers.

He’s the author of Ancient Blood: A Novel of the Hegemony and Drawing Dead: A Faolan O’Connor Novel which won the Author’s Talk About It 2016 Horror Novel Contest.

Guest Blog: Irish Vampires by Brian McKinley

Irish Vampires by Brian McKinley

Ireland is not particularly known for its vampire legends. Strange, in a way, because the Emerald Isle gave birth to two of the best-known and most influential vampire authors in history: Bram Stoker and Sheridan LeFanu. The authors of both Dracula and Carmilla, respectively, were both born and raised in Ireland and likely owe some of their literary creations’ characteristics to stories they heard growing up.

The most famous of Ireland’s vampires is a specific woman known as the Dearg Due (dar-ag dua) or “red blood sucker” said to be buried in Waterford, Ireland. The story is told of a beautiful young woman who, forced to marry a cruel and abusive clan chieftain, committed suicide. At the anniversary of her death, she rose from the grave with a blood lust. She began with her father and former husband, but her rage and thirst could never be sated. She sings to men in their sleep, luring them from their homes and draining the blood from their bodies.

In their earlier, pre-Christian forms, many fae creatures had distinctly vampiric characteristics. The first of these is called the LeananSidhe (Lee-awn She). They appear as beautiful women, often invisible to everyone but their intended victim, who seduce men and try to cause them to fall in love. If successful, the Leanan-Sidhe will drain him of life energy during sex, similar to a succubus, and feeds small amounts of her blood to him so that he is inspired to write love poetry to her. Slowly, he is drained to a husk. If, however, the man does not fall in love with her, the Leanan-Sidhe will strangle him and drain his body of blood. In some versions of the legends, resisting the seduction of the Sidhe causes her to fall in love with her intended victim and serve him as a slave.

Rather than simply drink the blood like most vampires, this creature has an element of the vampiric witch to her. She keeps her victims’ blood in a large red cauldron, which is the source of her ability to shape-shift into animals, become invisible, and remain youthful. The Sidhe in this creature’s name is a word traditionally associated with the fae in Irish folklore and refers to the ancient burial mounds Celtic people used for centuries. These mounds were often believed to be gateways between the land of the living and the dead. Some early beliefs about the origin of the fae mention not Arcadia, but rather the underworld.

A variation on this theme is the Baobhan Sith (Bavaan Shee). Technically a revenant, created when a woman died in childbirth and the body rose as a fae—again we see references to the underworld origin of fae—this vampire was unusual in that it would attach itself to a specific family and live among them normally. In fact, prior to the arrival of Christianity in Scotland, it was considered a sign of status to have one in the family. Most likely a precursor to the Banshee, the Baobhan Sith warned of impending death by wailing and, if a group of them came together to wail, then the death would be of a great person. After Christianity took hold, however, the Baobhan Sith took on a more evil role.

Described as a beautiful, tall, pale woman in a green dress (which hid cloven hooves), this vampire would appear to lone shepherds or travelers as a woman they knew or lusted after and lead them away to dance. Once the man was exhausted, the Baobhan Sith would attack and drink his blood. They could also transform into crows and, like most fairies, it was vulnerable to iron.

Similarly, people from Great Britain to Brazil to Eastern Europe and the United States all tell tales of White Ladies whose appearance boded death on the nights of the full moon. Originally ghosts of noblewomen who had been murdered or died an otherwise tragic death, and later associated with any local tragedy, they could be seen wandering cemeteries, crossroads, and the castles and manors where they died. Dressed in period finery and carrying chalices filled with poison, it was said that they would call out with hypnotic voices, inviting any who heard them to dance to music that didn’t exist. Those who accepted the invitation would be drained of blood, their bodies found the next morning by the side of the road. The White Ladies’ very touch was icy cold and could drain the life energy of the living. These ghostly ladies, like their fae counterparts, were vulnerable to the touch of iron but could also be warded off by crucifixes or priestly blessings. Another variation on this theme is the Lady in Red, more often a prostitute or jilted lover killed in a fit of passion and often to be found haunting theaters, hotels, and brothels.

Heard about any that I missed? Please let us know in the comments below!

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Brian McKinley doesn’t really exist. He’s a constructed mortal identity used by a relatively young Vampyr in order to publish the truth about The Order. Due to the world-wide influence of The Order and its minions, these accounts must all be published as fiction. Sometimes the names and sequence of events have been changed to protect the innocent, the guilty, and to keep from getting sued.

Brian is no longer a typical Vampyr and, for this reason, lives in hiding and writes from a secret location. The real “Brian” lives a life of danger and excitement; he loves Star Trek, Game of Thrones, and gangster movies as much as he loves chicken fried steak. And he really loves chicken fried steak! He’s a reader, a role-player, and a dreamer. He’s lived many lifetimes and is eager to share as many of them as possible with his readers.

He’s the author of Ancient Blood: A Novel of the Hegemony and Drawing Dead: A Faolan O’Connor Novel which won the Author’s Talk About It 2016 Horror Novel Contest.

 

Guest Blog : Ungodly Undoing by Essel Pratt Review by Michele Roger

Review of Essel Pratts, UnGodly Undoing

by Michele Roger

It is rare to find a book with a fresh, creative delivery. UnGodly Undoing by Essel Pratts does not disappoint. In essence, a collection of stories but brilliantly presented via alternating chapters. The first chapter sets the stage for an ongoing conversation between a bookish, teenage boy and the local, elderly bookstore owner. The next chapter has the old man as narrator, telling a ‘real life’ story of the small town of Mishawaka. The old man in the bookstore explains that not all great stories are found in books and the stories of Mishawaka are of a town deeply cursed. The chapters continue in kind, in an anthology of a cursed town.

Love Transcends Death,” is a simple story about angst and grief of a local doctor who is mourning the death of his wife. One day, kissing her urn goodbye becomes his undoing. Pratts build up in this particular tale is well timed; revealing an unexpected plot twist.

In the chapter entitled “Damned to Life”, we hear the story of an unlikely step-father and his vampire daughter. Elizabeth is a thirteen-year-old vampire held captive in the basement of her family home. After a vampire raped her mother, Elizabeth was born violently, killing her mother in the process. She lives a life of her father feeding her tainted blood from the local blood bank. Her escape from her prison and the reconciliation between father and daughter keeps the reader guessing until the last moment.

One of my favorite stories is Canopic Servitude. This chapter tells the tale of how the town warehouse contains the preserved remains of cursed, Egyptian royal cats who come back to life. I admit I was reading that chapter with my cat in my lap. By the time I had finished, I obediently went to the kitchen, opened the fridge and made him an offering of vanilla yogurt to my familiar feline. Just in case. 

If UnGodly Undoing has one set back, it’s that the stories are told in present tense. All of them. While, as a reader, I like that the conversations between the bibliophile boy and the old bookstore owner are set in present day, it feels strange to read the town’s chilling past in the same tense. For the narration to feel more authentic, I would have liked the actual stories of the strange incidents in Mishawaka to be told in past tense.

All in all, the book is a page-turner with alternating chapters bringing both closure to the previous chapter and baiting the reader to read just one more story in the chapter to follow. Pratts final story in the book, Silence, My Love is chilling and complex. I think that his ability to write psychological horror shines in this closing story. I would hope that he would consider a whole novel in this particular sub-genre. Fighting the demons of the mind, attempting to decipher between fantasy and reality and the complete undoing of a man due to madness makes for excellent horror reading.

Guest Blog: Excerpt from Soul Scent by Reyna Favis

 

Excerpt from Soul Scent:

“Can you tell me about the baby?”

Cam lifted a shoulder and then stared at the bottle in his hands. “Not much to tell, really. It was 1975 and I was working a job in Kings Worthy.” Glancing at me, he elaborated. “That’s in England. It’s a very old place. It was listed in the Domesday Book – you know, the survey taken in 1066?”

I bristled a little. “By William the Conqueror after the Norman Conquest. I know. I was a history major, remember?”

Nodding, Cam took up the story again. “Anyway, I was busy trying to lay the ghost of a Victorian clergyman who had taken up residence in the old church. At the same time, there was an archaeological dig taking place in the churchyard. They were interested in the old Anglo-Saxon burials and they eventually unearthed the skeletal remains of a young woman.” He took another drink and affected nonchalance as he continued the story. “Lying between the long bones of her legs, they found the skull of a full-term infant, but the fetal leg bones were still clearly within her pelvic cavity.”

“A coffin birth?” My eyes went wide at this thought.

Cam nodded again. “It happens. A pregnant woman dies and is buried and because of pressure from the gases that build up during decomposition, the dead fetus is expelled from the equally dead mother.” Looking down at his hands again, Cam picked at the label on the bottle. “Anyway, shortly after this find, the cries of a baby could be heard coming from the graveyard. It so disturbed the archaeological team that no one wanted to dig anymore and the work came to a grinding halt.”

 

“And did it also disturb you? Cam, I can tell this is difficult to talk about.”

Cam rolled his eyes and exhaled deeply, his words were clipped. “Yes, right. It bothered me a great deal. The baby was an innocent and completely blameless, yet she was left to suffer horribly for centuries.”

“But wasn’t the mother with the baby? How did you finally help her to move on?”

“I went into the churchyard with Zackie late one night to find the baby. The mother was nowhere to be found, so I assume she crossed over shortly after her death.”

“She left the baby?” My mouth hung open, aghast at the thought of just taking off and leaving an infant.

“She probably didn’t know the baby remained. In her time, the belief was that unbaptized infants went to Limbo, so in all likelihood, she died assuming that the baby would find its way and be taken care of.” Cam shrugged again. “Who knows? All I know is that earthbound souls of infants are a rarity, so most of the time, they move on with no difficulties. Something went wrong for this one.” Cam frowned as he stared into the middle distance for a beat. “But, you know, as soon as she saw Zackie, she quieted and stopped crying. Getting her to go through the portal was a breeze compared to the clergyman. I had to work another two weeks before the clergyman moved on.”

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Bio:
Reyna Favis is the author of SOUL SEARCH and SOUL SCENT, modern tales of the psychopomp set in the search and rescue world. Reyna holds a Ph.D. in biology and brings a scientist’s critical eye to the unseen world, imposing logical consistency and mechanistic detail to the unexplained. A proud and militant introvert, Reyna exerts her power as mistress of the dark arts of introversion through her blog, Introvert Broadcasting Network. When not writing, she responds to callouts as a canine handler for search and rescue.