Is there still such a thing as a good (Vampire) story?

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I wrote this post as a quick flash response to #writephoto, and then thought I could build a bit more on the story. But this genre, pace Interview, has been flogged so many times that I have my doubts. Nonetheless the follow-up is here, but one word of warning: some adult content! At this point I am not sure how far I can go with this. Part of the inspiration is indeed in the streets of Berlin, and in the forests of Brandenburg, not so far from this city. As for the characters, let’s say that any resemblance to living persons etc…

Picture: Seestraße at dusk (©2019 Honoré Dupuis)

 

Harbinger #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt

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I was in my last university year, preparing for a master in German Literature and History. Beside my academic work I enjoyed exploring the country, once called eastern Germany – Ostdeutschland sounded so much better – on my bike. At weekends I used to cover long distances, on the wonderful cycling tracks, or, sometimes off those well marked routes. My home was in the oldest, slightly wild, part of the city, in a beautiful pre war building that had miraculously escaped from the “Sanierung”, the destructive renovation craze that swept the city for decades. There, I inhabited a spacious fourth floor apartment that was ideal for a romantic, yet busy, student and sports addict. At that time, there was no woman in my life, part from my sister and a distant aunt who both lived far away. I was reading intensely, and had started publishing short stories in local literary journals.

That weekend I had done a long loop to the North and East of Brandenburg. It was late autumn, still warm during the day, and luminous. But I had left the beaten track, and followed an ancient path, evidently not much used, that snaked through a thick forest. The trees were old and magnificent. I was in love with the woods, and enjoyed listening to the many birds and small animals who lived there. It was getting late, at the time of year when the sunset suddenly explodes, and darkness comes quickly. I stopped for a little water and to rest my legs, in a small clearing. Soon I heard an owl. It was unmissable, but the owl was not hunting nor flying, she sounded like she was talking to someone, in a low voice, very closed to where I stood. I located her voice coming from a large oak tree nearby. The light was beginning to fade, but I managed to see the owl, sitting still on a high branch and looking down at the foot of the tree. There it was dark, but I finally located, in the grass, pretending not to be there, an old magpie who looked somewhat annoyed at my presence. But there was another shape, bigger, in the shadow: it looked as if the owl had been talking to two creatures.

It was a woman, a small woman, dark haired and wearing a sort of cape, also sitting cross-legged and looking up at the owl, or so I guessed. As I approached slowly, she must have heard my steps, and turned her head towards me. Her face was amazing, a young face, yet looking much wise, with pale green eyes that fixed me with intensity, and lips of bright carmine. Her hair was dark and flowed in waves around her shoulders. She was no tramp, but a well dressed young lady who wore old-fashioned but elegant boots, and was displaying very shapely legs above them. I was surprised, but managed to smile. The owl was silent. The magpie had disappeared. Then I heard her voice, a melodious low voice, speaking the local dialect, which I understood well enough:

“It is late for a city dweller to haunt these woods, stranger. Are you lost?”

I was not sure what to say. I came nearer, my mind a mixture of curiosity and amazement. “This is very kind. Yes, I got a bit off the track. But I heard the owl, and saw the magpie. Were you three talking? In which case I must apologise for the disruption.” She laughed, evidently amused at my speech. “Not at all. My friend up there, and I, are always interested in meeting new people…” I came closer and sat next to her. “But, she continued, don’t wait too long, I will show you how to get back to the main road, for soon it will get very dark.” Her voice was enticing. She was looking straight at me, turned toward me. Her penetrating eyes were catching the dying light. I knew this was a special instant. Who was she? Did she live in the woods? Was she really talking with the owl? We stayed silent, and I cannot tell now for how long. The night was soon all around us. I heard a rustle of small feet, then I must have fallen asleep for some time. When I came back to reality, it was pitch dark. I felt I had been bitten by some insect on the side of my neck. The young woman was no longer there, but there was a note pinned to my shirt, a carefully drawn small diagram showing which way I should go from where I was. I stood up, my bike was where I had left it, my rucksack still hanging from it. I looked at my watch: I must have been in the clearing for not longer than one hour. I had good lights and followed the diagram. It was very precise, and half an  hour later I was back on the path I had to take to get home. 

I felt hungry. I cooked myself some eggs and mixed a salad. I had a glass of wine. I was pondering my experience in the woods. The face of the young woman in the woods was still in my mind. I went to the bathroom for a shower, and I used Teatree oil on the skin of my neck. It wasn’t hurting. There was a mark, as if small but very sharp teeth had bitten the surface of my skin. That night I slept soundly, without dreaming. The following morning the mark had disappeared. 

 

 

Of a broken box and a small town

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In the past two weeks my writing output (I did not want to say “literary”) was badly affected by the collapse of my old Mac, bought in 2009. This was the tool for my writing before and after a first (disk) failure, back in 2018. I was then lucky enough to find a local expert (in Gesundbrunnen) to fix it, without loss of anything. So its life was extended by about a year. Ha! the anxiety, those precious manuscripts! I have now bitten the bullet, and got a so-called refurbished recent version of the same, so that I can now, for a while, avoid the usual trap of “too old to be updated etc.” Hence new MacOs and new virus protection. Even an updated version of Scrivener. Sigh… The “migration”, although assisted courtesy Apple™, was an experience… It’s all there as far as I have been able to ascertain, so far. I am now full of enthusiasm, and I am even considering a major reconstruction of my first novel, still languishing on the Cloud (more about this for another post).

In the meantime, on a beautiful and cool Sonntag we have discovered another treasure of Brandenburg, the town of Eberswalde. Treasure because of the location (slightly north-east of the city of Bernau by Berlin, and easily accessible with the regional train, well designed for carrying lots of bicycles), along two beautiful canals, the Finowkanal and the main Oder to Havel canal. Superb riding country, much loved by cycling enthusiasts all year round. The Finowkanal is on its length the site of magnificent industrial buildings in ruins, notably a paper mill dating back to the XVIIth century (and still working in 1991 when the vultures came in), and an electricity generation plant. This inspired me to write about it, and seek its history.

Now let’s go back to work!

Image: old paper mill in Eberswalde, source: Technikdenkmal in Eberswalde

Eberswalde bei Wikipedia.de

Vanish #DailyPost #Berlin-Spandauer Schifffahrtskanal

Along the canal…

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It’s a nice relaxing walk, some three kilometres from our place, soon on the bank of the Spandau canal, formerly Hohenzollern canal, following the Mauerweg. A small cemetery lies there, it must have been, for years, in the no man’s land between West and East, and the graves are those of senior officers of the Prussian army who were active before or at the start of the first World War.

This place is eery, as the Wall has vanished, bar in a few places (one can see still a watch tower entirely preserved, surrounded by new buildings where families and children now live.) Yet one feels that other presence: there was a border once, and thirty years before then it was not the City we now see. The province – Land – that has survived, is no longer Prussia, it is back to being Brandenburg. The founding myths of the new republic, “wir sind das Volk”, gloss over the historical complexities. What we see, or guess at, is the multitude of ghosts who haunt the space, all the way to the Reichstag.

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Photos: © 2016 Honoré Dupuis