Short Story Sunday: Mail Order House

Spring semester was supposed to start January 18. Maybe he’d lodge his leg out of the hole in the attic before then. His first class had a wait list of twelve, but he was sure at least five wouldn’t show so at least five wait list students would get in. No show, no class.

Why the Hell was he thinking of that right now. There were Vampires, or at least dried up husks of old Vampires wrapped in blankets four feet from him. Damn, he’d hoped they were dead enough not to smell the blood coming out of the cut on his leg.

The first class was titled “Major Problems in US History.” Fuck, that was fitting and timely. Every morning he wished the news would just go away. He wished he could go should on the streets, on Fox News, NPR, CNN, Buzz Feed, The Washington Post, and every crazy ass news outlet that Vampires, Werewolves, and Ghosts were real. But he didn’t. The ACLU would be all over it, and God only knows who else to give them equal rights because, after all, they are human and American citizens. They vote. Fuck. His leg ached.

Austin worked three jobs. There wasn’t any reason for it, he just did. First and foremost he was a History Professor at the local college. Second he was a contractor who restored historic buildings. Third, like his granny, he was a Vampire Hunter. The Vampire Hunter occupation wasn’t by choice. It just sort of happened. It was in his blood like, well, being a Vampire is in the blood of one of them.

He should have been home in bed with his wife, while the kids were up early watching cartoons. Only there was no wife or kids. There should have been. What he did have were a couple of recently adopted shelter cats named David and Crosby. The requirement was that the two Tom cats had to be adopted together. David was a large black and white tuxedo cat with a sweet disposition. Crosby was a skinny orange cat with a stub tail and a loud happy voice. It was love at first sight. They were five years old, so he figured he had at least another ten to fifteen years with them if they didn’t run in front of a car or get eaten by a coyote. He’d never seen a coyote in his neighborhood but he’d seen raccoons plenty of times. He thought of the movie “Lady Bird.” Part of it was filmed in his neighborhood, or at least a few blocks from there.

The house he was in was out in Fair Oaks. It was a mail order kit house built in 1915 complete with all sorts of fun features, including the river rock chimney. He’d purchased it for restoration and sale as a single family home. Over the years it had been turned into a flop house, then apartments, then a total mess. This house was not unique, but it was still special.

A burst of pain shot up from Austin’s right foot to his hip. He closed his eyes tight, then opened them only to see a single eye looking at him. The caramel brown was like a light shining out from a partially veiled face. The face was like dried bark. The eye was alive and fresh.

“What?” he said to the husk of a woman. “Are you going to eat me?”

A sound like grinding, or maybe cracking paper filled his ears as the Vampire lifted her arm then held out her hand.

“Take my hand,” she whispered in a barely audible voice.

Austin put his hand on the hilt of his knife and took the think dried out hand.

She pulled him up and out of the hole. It reminded him of when he was a child and his dad had pulled him out of the lake after he’d called out of their boat.

The Vampire touched his injured leg then licked the blood off of her fingers. Her face began to turn soft and almost glowed. She became beautiful before his eyes.

“I saved you,” she said to Austin. “I will not drink your blood but you must do me a favor.”

“What?” Austin asked. He knew about Vampire favors. He knew he couldn’t trust them.

“Cut off the heads of the other two Vampires. They’re no good. They are the reason I’m here. Then drive me to a place a few miles from here. The man is now old but he will remember me. He is my brother.”

“How long have you been up here?” Austin asked.

“Since 1963.”

Austin dropped her off then headed to the hospital to get thirty two stitches in his leg. His girlfriend Elizabeth met him there.

She put her cold Vampire hand on his forehead, then kissed his lips with hers. He wondered if those lips had been on somebody else’s neck that night. Then he put the thought from his head.

“I took an Uber over. I’ll drive your car home.”

Later that day he woke in his own bed. Elizabeth was sitting in the window seat reading a book.

“Did you hunt tonight Elizabeth?”

“You need to get some rest. Do you need any pain killers?” she answered.

Austin did fall asleep with dreams of strange events in American history. He’d make sure to add something about mail order homes in at least one of his lectures this semester. He’d skip the part about Vampires.

~ end

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