Historical fiction novel, by Dimitris Apergis. Exclusively at the blog of OKYPUS in 36 weekly episodes, in English and Greek languages.
Synopsis: London, 1824. The boss of London's Crime Syndicate, Wilbur Barnaby, assigns two men to travel to the -rebelling against the Turks- country of Greece and locate the poet Lord Byron in order to obtain a gambling debt of his to the underworld. One of the two men is Welsh Bugs Hamhaduke, the so-called "neckwringer." The other is the enigmatic Lord Greywood. The two men will embark on an adventurous journey to the Greek city of Missolonghi via Paris. None of those involved, however, is aware of Lord Greywood's terrible secret: That he actually belongs to the Order of Strigoi Morti, the oldest and most dangerous generation of vampires.
ISBN : 978-618-00-1549-2
PRELUDE : Guilá Naquitz (1 chapter)
PART ONE : London (4 chapters)
PART TWO : Paris (10 chapters)
PART THREE : Vampires (10 chapters)
PART FOUR : Missolonghi (10 chapters)
EPILOGUE : Los Angeles (1 chapter)
[ep. 14 of 36]
"I guess I owe you some explanation, Bugs. I suppose I must give you this explanation since I am the one responsible for your death. It would be unmannerly on my part if I let you depart for your deathly journey without your knowing of the full truth about me. Do you remember my story of my seven-day stay in the Senterdu forest near the Carpathian Mountains? Do you remember telling you that I resorted to the Senterdu forest because I was arguing with my old father for some reason I don't remember? That's not quite true, Bugs. I do remember the reason I argued with my old father. The reason was a young girl. Her name was Euphrosine. I remember it. Yes, her name was Euphrosine. There is no doubt about it. Oh, the tragic irony! ... I had to find myself on the bottom of the Seine to remember her name ... But let me tell you the story from its beginning. In that tiny village called Viragfalu, where I lived for twenty-seven years of my mortal life, there was also a beautiful daughter named Euphrosine. She was the third and youngest daughter of her family, her eyes light-brown, her skin pearly and glowing. It would be fair to contend that between me and Euphrosine a romance had developed, a romance as sweet as the sweet flower-honey of the summer oestrus. Oh it was one of those romances that grew like humble blossom over the years and remained tender in the sunshine of innocence. You would never understand such a romance, Bugs. The day came when I gave a vow of love to Euphrosine and she received my vow with unstinting acceptance. And after doing so, I promised her that I would marry her some day and that I would make my hearthstone with her, spending the rest of my life with her marital love. And she did the same, reassuring me that she had found in me her life companion. And since then we would spend those tranquil evenings contemplating our common future as a married couple. But, alas, Bugs ... Like all the immoderate feelings of happiness, this too was to give way to the unexpected hypostasis of life itself. And I say this with such obvious bitterness because a doctor came from a town far away from the village. He arrived in a coach and, as he stepped foot on the land of Viragfalu, all the villagers were awestruck by the black vesture that covered him all over from the neck to the shoes of his feet. That doctor, Bugs, was called by Euphrosine's family, and so he headed straight to her home accompanied by her father, without many greetings and introductions. The reason the doctor was called by her family was because Euphrosine suddenly stopped having her monthly menstrual periods, a fact that she had confided to me and which made her wonder. That doctor examined Euphrosine thoroughly and ruled that Euphrosine was infertile, meaning she would not be able to conceive in the future. And I, of course, hadn't - and haven't - any reason to question this diagnosis because it was known to all of us afterwards that this doctor was an excellent scientist and taught young doctors in a big city. After all, the white hair on his head testified to my mind an undeniable experience of life. So given this situation, Euphrosine's parents decided that the best course of life for their youngest daughter could not be any other than monasticism as they thought that in Viragfalu she would be destined to be an outcast. They therefore did all that was necessary to induct Euphrosine into the Szent Anya Monastery, north of Bukovina, which consisted exclusively of women who had chosen monasticism because of unrelenting devotion to Jesus. Of course, no one in the village knew about the romance that'd sprouted between me and Euphrosine because we had both kept it a secret. And I - being young and inexperienced - did not have the morale to inform my parents about my intentions with Euphrosine. The day before Euphrosine left, I promised her that I would come to St. Anya Convent in time to honour the vow of love I gave her. I promised her that I would take her out of the Monastery and marry her as the oath stipulated. She tried to put me at ease by telling me that there was no obligation on my part under the new developments and that it would be unfair to lead a married life with a wife who could not give me children. I replied to her that I did not care for any such obstacles and that it was completely impossible for me to imagine my life with another woman. So she accepted the promise I gave her, with a dose of mistrust admittedly as she understood that I was still young - as she was - and that young people are usually inclined to big and resonant words since they do not know what the life's grandeur reserves for them. Euphrosine was gone and some time had passed but I had not forgotten my vow. So there came a day when my father set out to discuss with me the issue of my marriage. And for that he had arranged in advance - and of course without my approval - my wedding preparations with a girl from a nearby village, Centruszmezo. The girl's family were farmers and Christian Orthodox like my family. I was then obliged to confess to my old father my love for Euphrosine, and to tell him in a manner bold and absolute that I did not intend to break the oath I had given her. "But that woman is infertile! Marrying a woman who will not give you children does not serve any purpose. How will you contribute to this world's continuing? Your seed will go wasted and your seed has been given by God to multiply and increase. Who are you to oppose the will of God? Is there a greater sin than to deny God the purpose for which He created you?” he said. I replied then that I didn't give a damn about this world's continuing. I also replied to him that I could never imagine anything more sad in this world than to live a life having broken my vow. I replied that Euphrosine's love was enough to make me appreciate all that time would bring and that I wanted nothing more. Those words were enough to anger my old father. So we got into an argument and I left home. And I went and stayed in the Senterdu forest those seven days that would determine my future course on earth. Alas, Bugs. I was so blinded by hatred for Batu Khan that the thirst for revenge made me completely forget my poor Euphrosine. Was she awaiting me bitter at the Szent Anya Monastery? This is a question that will - I guess - haunt me for centuries now that I am a vampire. I once remembered her, Bugs. As I had spent fifty years in Mexico's Guilá Naquitz Cave to calm my tortured spirit, I woke up one night terrified from my sleep persecuted by all those memories of my evenings with Euphrosine and the oaths I'd given her. My first thought was to go straight to the Szent Anya Monastery to fulfil my vow. And it was then that I was devastated when sorrowful I realised that fifty years had passed for the generations of mortals. Euphrosine would now be old if not dead. And - furthermore - it slipped completely from my mind due to confusion that I was a vampire. How would I set my foot in the Monastery? And what kind of life did I have to offer to Euphrosine? Surely I could never propose to her a course like mine, wandering through the gloomy valleys of death. I would adjudge this as a fatal mistake, a mistake that would burden my conscience to an unbearable degree. I'm a vampire, Bugs. And yet - contrary to widespread belief - vampires too have feelings. Euphorine. Yes, her name was Euphrosine."
[to be continued next Friday, 17 April 2020, exclusively at the blog of OKYPUS]
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A few words about the author
Dimitris Apergis was born in Larisa, Greece, in 1978. He graduated in BA (Hons) Film Studies in the UK. He lives in Greece.
His books are published in both English and Greek languages, by the OKYPUS PUBLISHING. https://en.okypus.com/okypus-publisher
Dimitris has received several awards for his literary work.
In 2018 he received the First Literature Award from the Panhellenic Association of Writers for his novel Gerard & the father. Additionally, in 2018 his novel Gerard & the father also received the First Literature Award at the 8th International Literature Contest held by E.P.O.C. (Hellenic Culture Association of Cyprus) under the aegis of UNESCO.
In 2017 his novel ‘At the Whiskey County’ received the First Literature Award at the 7th International Literature Contest held by the Hellenic Culture Association of Cyprus under the aegis of UNESCO.
In 2015 his novella ‘Jazz Room’ received the Second Literature Award from the Panhellenic Association of Writers.
In 2013 he received a Praise from the Panhellenic Association of Writers for his short story Labyrinth
In 2012 he received the First Literature Award from the MONITOR Press for his short story Acid Rain