Desert Flower – A contemporary vampire fiction
By Tom Olbert
Desert Flower, my second vampire novelette through Eternal Press, is an attempt to use vampire fiction as a lens through which to view the darker side of human nature in the real world. That was also true of my first vampire novelette, Unholy Alliance.
Desert Flower is a dark story of a sisterly bond between a human and a vampire that goes tragically awry in the course of war and ill-fated romantic love. Set in contemporary Afghanistan, it follows the life of Ruhee, a child bride who is rescued from her abusive husband by Fleurette, a 240-year-old vampire girl who has narrowly escaped the destruction of her vampire group in Europe and fled to Afghanistan with vampire hunters in hot pursuit.
When I first acquired the idea of doing a vampiric revenge tale about child brides, I hadn’t initially thought of Afghanistan. At first, I’d thought of doing a short story about the Roma child brides in France (as I’d heard a disturbing Amnesty International report about them.) But, I could find little information on the topic. I did, however, find a great deal on child brides in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Plus, there is a lot going on in Afghanistan, and it offered tremendous potential. The clash of civilizations, the moral dilemma of war and spiritual conflict, all of which could be viewed from the centuries-spanning perspective of a vampire. As with Unholy Alliance, I wanted to tell the story of a first love under dark and impossible circumstances. This time, though, it was more complex.
It begins as two girls, both torn from innocence and thrown into dark bondage by forces beyond their control. In Fleurette, Ruhee sees a savior. In Ruhee, Fleurette sees the life she herself can no longer live. As the years pass, Ruhee, being human, of course grows up. Fleurette, being a vampire does not. Inevitably, a boy comes between them. Batal, a young man who joined the Taliban after his family was killed by American bombs is torn by the cruelty and violence that has consumed his young life. In Ruhee, he sees a savior, and his first love.
As before, I’ve tried to depict timeless evil through modern-day vampire fiction. The supreme irony is that the vampire hunter, fanatically obsessed with destroying evil by driving a stake through the heart of the walking undead, seems oblivious to the daily evil wrought by other human beings, which claims far more innocent human lives than all the vampires who’ve ever lived combined. The hatred and the casual slaughters of war are blandly accepted or ignored as a familiar aspect of the human landscape. The mass slaughter of innocents is brushed aside as “collateral damage.” Rationalized, even glorified in the real world. Just as the fictional vampire rationalizes killing as the need of his sustenance.
Fleurette pulled back into the shadows, cloaking herself in
darkness as she averted her eyes from the cross. “Please don’t be
afraid,” she said in a hoarse, constricted voice. “I could never hurt
you. I love you like a sister.”