Today, I bought candy so that I might stand in my driveway and hand out snacks to those brave enough to enter my small cul de sac, where few turn on their lights for the Trick or Treaters. And once more, my thoughts again run to the macabre. Revenance, or people returning from the dead in a ghostlike form or as an animated corpse, is a common theme in paranormal tales. The word “revenant” comes to us from the Latin word reveniens, meaning “returning.”
William of Newburgh (during the 1190s) and other early English historias of the Middle Ages documented these appearances. “It would not be easy to believe that the corpses of the dead should sally (I know not by what agency) from their graves, and should wander about to the terror or destruction of the living, and again return to the tomb, which of its own accord spontaneously opened to receive them, did not frequent examples, occurring in our own times, suffice to establish this fact, to the truth of which there is abundant testimony.” (William of Newburgh, Historia rerum Anglicarum (History of English Affairs), Book Five, Chapter 5, Fordham University)
Medieval European stories of revenants have some common features. Those who revive from the dead are typically wrongdoers in their lifetime, often described as wicked, vain, or unbelievers. Often the revenants are associated with the spreading of disease among the living. The appropriate response is usually exhumation, followed by some form of decapitation, and burning or removal of the heart. Several stories state that revenants drink blood. Again, this assumption likely comes from the practice of leaving diseased corpses exposed for an extended period of time. In truth, the gases in the body would cause the body to bloat, as well as to force the blood from the extremities through the lungs and esophagus and into the mouth. It would be nature for unlearned people to try to explain this phenomenon by thinking the dead had grown fat by feasting on the blood of others.
For example, in Historia rerum Anglicarum (mentioned above) the corpse of one revenant is reported to have been found in the grave, swollen and “suffused with blood”. When it was pierced, a stream of blood flew out of the wound. This part of the story is paralleled in many accounts of alleged vampires, and the phenomenon it depicts is, in fact, known to occur frequently as part of the natural process of corpse decomposition. Revenants are therefore another example of the widespread historical belief in vampires. (Revenant)
Heck, even Disney and Pixar are getting in on the idea of the dead returning. Coco is an upcoming American computer-animated musical fantasy film. The story follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who sets off a chain of events relating to a century-old mystery, leading to an extraordinary family reunion when he travels to the land of the dead. The concept of the film is based on the Mexican holiday of the Day of the Dead. Coco is scheduled to be released on November 22, 2017.
Vampire tales have existed in Europe since the 11th Century (and maybe before that time). A person could become a vampire if he were unbaptized or killed in some violent manner. Some people were labeled as vampires if they were not from the area in which the unusual incident took place or if they were the first to die from an infectious disease.
In the 1600s and the 1700s, in Europe, people performed funerary rites. These were intended to guard against vampires. Those involved would put a sickle across the body to decapitate the body if it rose from the grave, or they would place large rocks under their chins to prevent the vampire from opening his mouth.
Pruitt, Sarah. “The Truth About Poland’s ‘Vampire’ Burials.” History. 2 December 2014. http://www.history.com/news/the-truth-about-polands-vampire-burials
Radford, Benjamin. “Vampires: The Real Story.” Live Science. 22 October 2014. https://www.livescience.com/24374-vampires-real-history.html
“Vampire History.” History. http://www.history.com/topics/vampire-history
Vampire Darcy’s Desire presents Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as a heart-pounding vampire romance filled with passion and danger.
Tormented by a 200-year-old curse and his fate as a half human/half vampire dhampir, Fitzwilliam Darcy vows to live a solitary life rather than inflict the horrors of his life upon an innocent wife and his first born son. However, when he encounters the captivating Elizabeth Bennet, his will is sorely tested.
As a man, Darcy yearns for Elizabeth, but as a vampire, he is also driven to possess her. Uncontrollably drawn to each other, they are forced to confront a different kind of “pride” and his enemy’s “prejudice,” while wrestling with the seductive power of forbidden love. Evil forces, led by George Wickham, the purveyor of the curse, attack from all sides, and Darcy learns his only hope to survive is to align himself with Elizabeth, who is uncannily astute in how to defeat Wickham, a demon determined to destroy each generation of Darcys.
Vampire Darcy’s Desire retells Austen’s greatest love story in a hauntingly compelling tale. Can love be the only thing that can change him?
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“Will this work, Colonel?” Gordy unloaded bundles of white thorn and ash staves. It was high noon, and the Darcys prepared for the evening.
“My cousin knows how to rid a land of vampires, and this is one of the steps.” The colonel placed a stave horizontally across each of the marked and unmarked graves.
Gordy followed Damon’s pattern. “What will them staves do?” he asked, bending over to place the wood carefully on the mounded dirt.
“The soul cannot leave the grave if the stave lies across it.”
“All them creatures be stuck in the ground?”
Damon responded, “Until we decide to permit them to leave.”
“That be somethin’ to view, Colonel.” He picked up another bundle and moved to the other side of the cemetery.
Damon watched as Elizabeth struggled with the large bags of salt and millet. “Gordy, leave those if you would and assist the lady instead. She will explain what she requires of you.”
Damon’s newest recruit followed his orders. “Let me be helpin’ ye, ma’am.” Gordy took the heavy bag from Elizabeth’s arms.
“Oh, bless you, Gordy.” She wiped perspiration from her forehead with her handkerchief.
“Ye jist be tellin’ Gordy what to do, and I be doin’ it. Colonel there tell me to he’p ye.”
Elizabeth looked up to see Damon continuing to place the staves. “I will thank him later. Now, Gordy, if you will follow me, we want to place a stream of salt all around the inside of the graveyard.”
“Seem like a mighty big waste of salt, Ma’am, but I be doin’ what ye ask.” Using a knife, he cut a small hole in the bottom of the bag and walked slowly around the perimeter of the site.
“Make at least two rounds, Gordy. The spirits cannot cross the salt line, so I want no breaks in the markings,” Elizabeth instructed him.
“Yes, ma’am.” He continued his slow trek, meticulously filling in the uneven flow.
Darcy asked, “Where shall we place the millet, Elizabeth?”
“Have Peter use a ladle to scoop millet onto both the head and the foot of each grave and before the gate of each crypt.”
Darcy smiled at her, squeezing her hand. “Yes, my love.”
They brought in wooden stakes and several bags of coins to hide in a church alcove until they required them. “Everything is set!” the colonel called out to the group. “Gordy and Peter, you two stay here. We will send food and drink. You are to make certain no one else enters the cemetery. The three of us will return long before it is time for the confrontation.”
“Gordy,” Darcy asked, “do the villagers understand they must rebury those we release tonight?”
“I be tellin’ ’em all. We be not understandin’ how ye be doin’ all this, but they come on the morrow. I’s sees to it.”
Darcy, the colonel, and Elizabeth returned to the inn. Not wishing to speak of what the night might bring, they took their meal in Darcy’s room, away from curious travelers. They ate in near silence, each consumed with his thoughts. At length, the colonel said, “I believe I will take to my bed for a few hours. It is likely to be the last rest I will have for some time. If you two will excuse me.” He left with a half bow.
Darcy and Elizabeth remained in silence until Darcy said, “I wish I had not agreed to this. How can a man place his wife in danger and still call himself a man?”
“I am not a weak woman. You, in fact, taught me to use a sword and to ride,” she protested.
Darcy protested, “I should not have encouraged your behavior.”
“Mr. Darcy, you fell in love with me because I was different. Did we not settle this earlier?”
Darcy moved to kneel before her. “God help me, Elizabeth, I truly do love you, and although I know you to be more capable than many men with whom I am acquainted, I cannot bear to place you in peril.”
“Do not worry. Remember, Damon will protect me.”
Darcy felt a pang of jealousy at hearing her refer to his cousin on such intimate terms. “It is my province to protect my wife.”
“We return to the same argument. Damon Fitzwilliam recognizes me as capable. Mayhap it is his experience on the battlefield that permits him to see a person’s true worth. Even though you profess to claim me exemplary, you cling to antiquated ideas. I gave you my heart months earlier. May I remind you, my husband, it is my love for you that brought me here!”
Darcy closed his eyes in submission. “Is there nothing I may say to change your mind?”
Elizabeth gently touched his face in a soft caress. “No, sir. Your cousin will go tonight, with or without me. I cannot permit him to do this alone. You must concentrate your efforts on Wickham. Damon deserves some consideration for all he has done for us.” Elizabeth brushed her lips across Darcy’s. “Now, I will follow your cousin’s example. I intend to take to my bed. Would you join me, my husband?”
Darcy emitted a deep sigh of resignation. He was not certain he could ever be the type of man Elizabeth required, but he knew without a doubt he could not permit her to leave him. “Holding you, my love? How could I refuse?” Darcy scooped her into his arms and carried her to the bed. He reverently lowered her to the pillows, following her down. “Remind me why I should stop the curse.”
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