“The Devil’s Night” — David Jacobs

[amtap book:isbn=0425178609]

They only come out at night

Cloth tearing, she spread-eagled her arms and legs, tautening the leathery folds of swelling batwings. The wings were part of arms, growing out of the shoulders, attached to the long thinning skeletal arms and legs with scalloped leathery black bat membranes.

Batwings beat the air frantically, trying to stop or at least slow the fall.

Among the Undead, only the most powerful vampires can muster the occult force needed for shapeshifting, to become a giant bat, a wolf, or mist that can drift through solid walls.

Such a queen vampire was Marya Zaleska.

Countess Marya Zaleska, Dracula's Daughter.

The Universal Monsters: Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, the Wolfman, Dracula's Daughter. All returning, just as they returned in so many Universal horror movies, this time in fictional form.

The focus of this story is Dracula's Daughter, Countess Zaleska, who plots to use the powers of the werewolf to aid in her quest for power. But not just any werewolf, not even the cursed lLarry Talbot, but instead the descendant of the infamous Werewolf of London, who was bitten by a werewolf in Tibet and who passed the curse on to his descendants. With his unwitting or unwilling help, she plans to revive the Bride of Frankenstein as her servant, the new Eve of a superhuman subject race.

Marya said, "They will obey for the same reason that the downtrodden human masses allow themselves to slave for those who rule over them. Why do the many not revolt against the tyranny o the few? Because they've been trained not to do so, manipulated, mind-controlled, and so programmed from birth to death that the very idea of revolt to them is unthinkable.

"The same shall be done to the Bride and her human progeny. With hypnotic mind control and all the arts and sciences of governence and control, they will be imprinted to love their masters, and to obey us a godlike lords of creation."

But that's not all that's happening: Count Dracula, posing as Baron Latos in a small Carribean island country, has tried to take control of Frankenstein's Monster through the art of Voodoo, albeit most unsuccessfully: the conflict has buried them both deep within an ancient fortress, but mortal men are commanded by the Countess to recover them both and return them to her, that she eliminate them both, the greatest threats to her power, and assume true power in her own right.

But other forces are at play, other interests at work.

Commentary: Of course, as a vampire, and not only the daughter of a powerful vampire but powerful herself, Countess Zaleska possesses a considerable mesmeric power.

Marya didn't use much makeup. When she was charged up at her full vampiric power, she needed no cosmetic enhancement, possessing the vampire's seductive glamour. When she was not at her best, as for example when going too long between feedings, she relied on her powers of hypnotic fascination to beguile and deceive the eyes of the mortals who surrounded her.

There is one scene where she uses that power explicitly:

Marya spoke her name, a whisper, more felt than heard. A velvet stroke.

"Denise."

The girl looked away.

Marya spoke her name, again. Some of those workers nearby looked up, suddenly. They'd felt some of the residual effects of Marya's compelling power. Even though the message wasn't for them, they still picked up enough of it to feels its passage. One of them shuddered.

Lambert heard the whisper, too. He watched, fascinated, avidly staring at Marya's ripe subtly smiling mouth. He was looking for fangs, but he didn't see any; they were too well hidden by her lips.

"Denise!!"

The call fell on the girls' brain with a soft, stunning effect, a velvet-wrapped iron bar. Denise stiffened. Marya made a slight gesture, seemingly without meaning. It was a hypnotic hand pass.

Denise's eyes closed, lids stretched tautly across bulging orbs, body rigid, her full-breasted chest rising and falling with deep, heavy breathing. But at least she had stopped struggling.

Looking up, Marya saw Lambert watching her. In her eyes were twin red points, and in the instant that she met his gaze, he felt their impact, an electric spark, a shock, racing across his suddenly tautened nerves, causing his heart to skip a beat. He couldn't breathe, until she broke eye contact. Then he colored, looking away. There were better reasons than mere subservience for not meeting the gaze of one's patron, especially when that patron was Marya Zaleska.

Recommendation: Definitely recommended for any fans of the old Universal Horror movies and monsters.

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