Short Story Sunday: Crawl Space

Crawl Space

I took off my sweater and handed it to my brother Aaron. There was no way I was going to crawl on my stomach under the crawl space of a house with it on.

“So tell me again why you can’t get the bodies out from under the building first?” I had to ask.

“They’re not quite dead yet and they might attack Austin. He’s human, a Regular Human,” my brother told me. Austin by the way is a Regular Human and sometimes Vampire Hunter and usually just a guy who does a great job restoring old buildings that seem to be filled with scary shit like ghosts and old musty Vampires.

And of course Aaron was wearing a $5,000 suit of course he couldn’t crawl under the house.

“You might know them”, added Austin, meaning the creatures under the house.

I almost gave him a fang filled snarl but I just gave him a weak normal girl smile.

Wearing garden gloves I crawled on my  hands and knees over bare dirt.Even in the dark I could see assorted bugs and cobwebs. Rat droppings were scattered around. Why the crap would any Vampire want to sleep under floor boards?

About 20 feet into it I was the boxes. OK they were coffins.

I thought back of when I was a kid and always the one to crawl under houses and into tight spaces. It wasn’t because I was small. It was because I pretend to be fearless and now it is because I don’t take any bull shit from Shadow Creepers and dusty old Vampires who can’t deal with the modern normal world. We’re not having a Nosferatu and Dracula Hoedown kids, this is the 21st Century.

The lids were on the boxes. I managed to kneel on my knees without banging my head on something and pushed one off. Inside was a male in a pinstripe suit. His face was waxy looking and pale. I noticed sunken cheeks and lips that seemed a little thin. He hadn’t fed in a while. The box next to him contained a female. Skin stretched over her face, a hint of teeth including fangs showed beneath parted lips. Oh come on, all Vampire girls know not to sleep with their fangs exposed. She wore some sort of black dress thing. The scent of rotted roses and cigar smoke came from her box. In the third box…nothing jumped out. It was another male. I recognized the face. His eyes open a bit, yellow green rolls to stare at me. I see recognition in his face; a fact that was once handsome and could be again, but he was so strange, so weirdly in the shadows and cold, not like Vampires I associate with, but like a dead fish.

Then my butt vibrates. My phone. I pull it out. Garrett, my darling 18 year old son is calling from college. I’m a mom. I must answer.

“Hey mom, what do you call two ducks and a cow?”

“What?”

“Quackers and Milk.”

“Good one. What do you call an Englishman, two ducks and a cow?”

“Graham Quackers and Milk. Love you mom.”

I hear a groan from one of the box. I slap slap it hard with my hand and hiss at it. The noise stops.

I keep my eyes on the yellow green orbs that watch me as I talk to my son. He rattles on about classes and girls he knows and sings me a song he wrote. He says he goes to the beach almost every day and is going to go surfing on Sunday. He says it is the perfect college for Vampires. He is so excited about school. My heart melts a little.

Then he asks me what I’m up to.

“I’m under a building with three boxes full Shadow Creeping Vampires. You know me, everyday is Halloween.”

“How’d you end up there?”

“Helping your Uncle Aaron and a friend. Long story, but the short version is that I was the only one wearing jeans and I’m smaller than they are so I got elected.”

Old Green Eyes started to sit up. “I gotta go Garrett. I’ll call you back later today.”

“Love you mom.”

“Love you too sweetie pie.” I looked at my old friend. OK he wasn’t a friend. I’d met him before, a long long time ago. “What are you doing here?” I said trying to keep myself from sneering at him.”You look like a fucking Zombie. What is wrong with you people? Have you lost all self respect?”

“Juliette,” he whispered my name in a dry voice, like old coffee grinds and gravel.

“Jasper. That last time I saw you was…1923, New Orleans. What are you doing here?”

He started to tell me something in French that I couldn’t quite make out when I stopped him. “Listen, you have three choices. The first is that you agree to live like Modern Vampires and stop this nonsense of lurking around like you’ve just come out of some creep show. The second is that I leave you to the Vampire Hunters. The third is that you let one of my friends, and I use that term loosely, take you to San Francisco where you can be with others of your kind. But you can’t stay here. We have enough problems in Sacramento without your kind.”

“My kind?” He opened his eyes wide and showed his fangs.

“That is exactly what I mean, you giving me the evil eye and trying to scare me with your ugly mug. You used to be handsome and well, you were never charming but you used to be, well, not THIS.”

I crawled back into the sunlight which was no cup of tea, believe me. I might spend time during the day but the sunshine, especially after the darkness under a house, always comes as a shock. I pulled out my sunglasses put them on then took a deep breath and brushed off my pants. Filling Aaron and Austin in on the situation I told them that I’d let them decide what to do with Jasper and his friends.

I had to go home and take a shower and scrub my skin off with steel wool, or at least that is how I was feeling. The image of his eyes stuck in my brain like Poe’s Tell Tale Heart story.

“It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees – very gradually –I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.”
― Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings

His eyes will haunt me for sure. Maybe I’ll check on him in a few months time, out of morbid curiosity. That is, if the Vampire Hunters or other creatures don’t get them first. There are Shadow Creepers who seem so vile, but then there are other Vampires who I don’t even dare name or ever seek out for any reason.

Like I’ve said, Halloween is never far from my reality.

I called Garrett back. He listened to my story. I didn’t make it into some cautionary tale or anything like that. We just talked. He told me that I was the most awesome mom ever.

So anyway, that is what I did today.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Burning Question #7: Jungle Love

Burning Question #7

It is now time for this week’s BURNING QUESTION. When I get to question #50 we’ll be at the end, or maybe not. Anyhow…

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I was listening to the radio and the Steve Miller song Jungle Love came on and it got me thinking. It got me thinking about Tarzan. It was driving me crazy.

Don’t know much about Tarzan? Here, read this. I took it from Wikipedia. Tarzan (John Clayton, Viscount Greystoke) is a fictional character, an archetypal feral child raised in the African jungle by the Mangani great apes; he later experiences civilization only to largely reject it and return to the wild as a heroic adventurer. Created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan first appeared in the novel Tarzan of the Apes (magazine publication 1912, book publication 1914), and subsequently in 25 sequels, several authorized books by other authors, and innumerable works in other media, both authorized and unauthorized.

Needless to say Tarzan took off like hot fudge on ice cream and was made into movies, cartoons, comics, and animated films. Everybody loves a sexy English Jungle guy, raised by apes. What heart isn’t melted by the thought of a wealthy Englishman who grew up as a feral child? Of course I did everything I could do to keep my kids from being feral children but that is another post.

But still, there is a burning unanswered question about Tarzan.

Look at ALL of the photos below of Tarzan. Do you see any trace of a three-day beard, or even overnight beard growth? No you don’t. Neither do I.

 

 

 

So what’s up with Tarzan? He is a hunka hunka burning Jungle Love but no chest hair, no beard, no pit hair. What’s under his loin cloth? OK we won’t go there today, but you know where I’m going with this (maybe you don’t but I’m not going to explain.) If you really want to know ask Jane. We all know she knows what is under his loin cloth.

Tarzan was raised by a bunch of apes after his human parents died. Apes don’t shave. They don’t have tools. They don’t have Amazon Prime so they can’t even order razors online, and if they could they wouldn’t use them to shave their faces.

And who taught Tarzan how to make a loin cloth, and what is that loin cloth made of?

But back to that handsome face… Does he shave? Did he keep his dad’s razor? Seriously the books and movies never mention anyone going potty, so he might be shaving off of the written page, behind the scenes.

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If Tarzan’s parents had left him in the Pacific Northwest or British Columbia he’s be shaving like this guy.

Burning Question #7: Does Tarzan Shave?

So answer the question. Yes or No. Does Tarzan Shave?

 

Now everybody shout out: AAAAAAeeeeeeaaaaaEEEEEaaaaaaaaaaaaaEEEEEaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Now that you’ve answered the Burning Question we’re going to have a sing along. The first song always makes me cry. It is from the Disney Tarzan Movie. It is about Tarzan and his ape mom. OMG my eyes are watering up right now. The second song does not make me get all squishy but sing along anyway. Take it away Phil and Steve.

Did you notice I didn’t even ask about the six pack and I’m not talking about what beer Tarzan drinks.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Bloom

Even Vampires get the blues, but nothing so bad that some flowers won’t fix it. I dare say I don’t live in a black house with dead plants in the yard. OK I’ll admit that everything in the yard used to be dead but not anymore. I’ve spent the past three years digging in the river rocks rolled in a light dusting of dirt and managed to make something of it. The key has been to plant so that something is always blooming.

These are my flowers. The gray one is Oscar the cat.

 

 

But one can never have too many flowers in their world.

A few weekends ago I took the old ones Eleora and Tellias out to see the world. I had to get them out of their old musty house and into a bright spot. We went to the Sacramento Orchid Show.

Eleora wore satin red shoes. These were old shoes that she’d used years ago for ballroom dancing. She’d tied silk orchid flowers to the straps. She matched it with a red skirt decorated with appliqué poinsettia and snowflakes. With that she wore a yellow lace blouse. I asked her about her choice of a Christmas skirt.

Eleora looked at me with almost an eye roll and said, “Flowers. We are going to a flower show. This is a flower skirt.”

I didn’t argue. Tellias wore his usual yellow flip-flops, black dress pants, and a white tuxedo shirt with rolled up sleeves. He’d trimmed his pale blonde hair from just below his shoulders to collar length. It had kind of a wave in it now that I hadn’t seen since the 1960’s.

Lola, my great great great great great grandmama also came along. She is quite a bit younger than Eleora and Tellias, but still ancient in her own right. She wasn’t wearing anything unusual, just jeans and a pretty shirt like just about everyone else at the orchid show.

But all in all we looked like a group of nice young people. Tellias and Eleora appear to be in their late teens or maybe twenty or twenty-one. Lola looks forever twenty-five, and I look just slightly older, even thought I’m the youngest of the group at a mere 158.

I watched as Eleora and Tellias went off by themselves, huddled over each orchid plant in awe of the beauty of the unusual blooms. They talked over each other, hummed, sang a few songs, held hands, and occasionally gave each other a quick kiss. I kept a sideways eye on them just to make sure they wouldn’t do anything too odd. They were indeed a beautiful and strange pair who positively glowed over the sight of the orchids. If anyone did look at the couple they’d usually smile. How could they help but smile at those two.

Lola and I walked behind them admiring the plants and catching up with each other. She mentioned her ex-husband, her first, was alive. She thought he was dead. Of course she hadn’t seen him in about five hundred years, give or take a few. She had no intention on seeing him ever again. I asked if he had an Internet presence and she told me no. That isn’t unusual for Vampires. A lot of them go on the Dark Web for obvious reasons, or they’re like me and don’t give a crap what people think. Nobody believes any of this shit anyway, but there is an element of truth in it all – more than an element. But back to Lola…

“You need to let go of him,” I told her.

She took my arm in hers and led me to a giant yellow orchid. “That is so beautiful. I need get one of those. I’ve been trying to keep up the greenhouse. It keeps Eleora and Tellias active. They can putter around and sing little ditties to the flowers to make them bloom.” She led me over to a grouping of pink orchids. “These too. Eleora loves pink. We’re growing herbs too. Back when I was married to him we grew oranges and lemons in a greenhouse. It was too cold to grow them outside.”

“Why’d you leave him?”

“Not why you’d think. He wasn’t cheating on me or cruel to me. He was just such an asshole. So full of himself. And he was violent even for a Vampire. I didn’t like his friends either. The passion was there but… always the passion, but I got tired of fighting and making up all the time. I got so tired of all of the drama. When I met Thomas, my next husband it was like a glowing ray of moonlight. He was so kind and gentle, and he was funny. He made me laugh. And there was also great passion like every Vampire woman dreams of. Then… I just don’t understand. Thomas was burned alive as a witch, and that asshole still lives on.”

She has told me this story over and over and over, for my entire existence. We all have friends and family members like that. And as they get older they tell the stories more often. I try to keep Lola, Eleora, and Tellias involved so that they have new stories to tell.

Than again Lola’s current boyfriend is thirty nine years old. You wouldn’t think it would work but it does. I wouldn’t want my son or daughter to get involved with a much older Vampire, but Lola and Cody went in without one taking advantage of the other. Plus Lola has always been diligent about keeping up with the modern world.

As a parent I’ve always kept up with current culture. There is nothing worse for a young adult to have a mom or dad who is still living in 1984.  Parents owe it to their kids to keep up with everything from music to fashion to movies and everything else that is going on. If your kid is politically involved you need to be too. Share your music – new and old. You’ll be surprised how many things you both like. Keep an open mind. It will keep you young.

Despite their age (well over 2,000 years) I’ve always believed keeping an open mind is one of the things that has kept Eleora and Tellias young. Nobody wants to be a musty dank old Shadow Creeper and sit around in rotting Victorian clothing drinking thick days old blood in chipped old china cups. That isn’t just good advice for Vampires. It is good advice for everyone.

Tellias and Eleora bought twelve new orchids for their greenhouse. Lola texted Cody and told him to meet us later for wine on the back deck. I called my husband Teddy to do the same.

No matter who you are, or what you are, make it a goal to keep growing and blooming. And have fun, no matter what your age.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Quotes about Life, Love, Art and Vampires

Quotes about Life, Love, Art and Vampires from Vampire Maman (things I’ve said)

Our old friends

 

The only thing a man should wax is his car.

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I was so angry I could have killed him… then I remembered he was a Vampire.

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The closest I get to a true religious experience is when I’m in the presence of art

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I can explain the wonder and awe and feeling of being so complete and one with the universe when I’m in the presence of art. It is time travel for the soul. It is the essence of being. It was something that transports.  It is like a high that no drug can match. It is magic.

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There is something romantic about most art as well, or at least the art I’m attracted to, be if figural, landscape, modern or ancient.

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When I pass him he always puts a hand on my waist or back. He takes my hand when we walk or sit anywhere. We don’t even have to talk, but we do talk. We talk a lot – all the time. We never run out of things to talk about. We’ve been together for a long time and have our banter down to an art. It delights most and some find it extremely annoying, but it is what we do. And a lot of that conversation/banter is about art.

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Val always says “love isn’t a physical thing. It is a meeting of souls. Be it friendship or romantic lovers, it is something we can write about and dream about, but we can never truly explain or define it.”

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Just shut up and give it a rest.

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“What are you?” I asked him that question surprising myself that I didn’t ask whobut what.

He laughed and I caught something different in his smile. His teeth. He looked like he had fangs. “I am a genetic wonder and mystery. I am the Velociraptor of the human subspecies.” Then he looked serious. “Shawna, don’t be afraid of what I tell you for I would never harm you. I am a Vampire.”

“Like in the movies?” I stupidly asked.

“No, like the guy standing next to you. Like the guy who came down to the ends of the earth to heal a broken heart and soul, to give up, to write songs and wallow in my misery only to find you.”

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I will be with you even when we fall apart and our body parts trail behind us…and there is nothing left except our love. ~ From a Zombie Love Letter

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You’re the warm summer breeze against my skin. You’re a warm embrace on a cold winter night. You’re the hot in my chocolate. You’re the key to my lock. You’re the one who knows the punch line.

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Eleora quietly got out a few plates. “I was 300 years old before I tasted cheese.”

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As a Vampire you are a born liar (like a cat.) That isn’t a good thing or a bad thing. It is just a thing. Just like being a writer – you tell a certain truth, even if it might be the truth, say in an alternate universe. You’re only a liar if you tag your work “non-fiction” or if you’re an asshole, but that is another story. Ask Oprah about it.

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Everybody loves to hate on people who write about Vampires.

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Most Vampire Hunters will be heard in hushed whispers or desperate cries “Don’t look into their eyes or they’ll have you.”

Most Vampire Hunters are idiots but it is true about the eyes. The mirror to the soul and the entrance to all of your wildest dreams and most dreaded nightmares.

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But I stayed. I held him close, because sometimes just something warm is nice. He turned me around to face a mirror. His image was clear. My own Vampire image was a shadow or like a ghost. It was like the image in a daguerreotype that vanishes when turned or shown in the sunlight.

“Look at my eyes, in the mirror and I’ll become clear.”

We stood there looking at each other in the glass, so different, yet connected in our weird way. My image became as crisp as his, as so did my nerves.

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People won’t admit they read poetry and are moved by it…but late at night they go on the internet and search it out. It is like pornography. I’m dead serious (no pun intended). It is a need that most people will not dare admit to.

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“I’m a realist. You aren’t a Vampire. You have no idea what we can do to people.”

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In big and little ways the ability to change directions and go from one extreme to another without missing a beat is what life is all about. Old and young and all of us in the middle – it is what we do. It is who we are.

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You never know who will be there to help. You never know but sometimes it might seem like a miracle or something you won’t be able to describe. But there are those who will help – more than you think.

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I don’t really believe in fate, not much. None the less, when good things happen or bad things are avoided treasure that. Most of all you should treasure those precious folks that make up your life.

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So what happens when she breaks up with you and you get all butt hurt and can’t stand to see her face but you know you’re going to keep running into her for the next 200 years?

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Lucy,
I’m tired of being pursued by sluts like you who cheat on their boyfriends. You took me to your bed when you knew another man was in love with you. Shame on you. Tell the same to that little trollop Mina.  And tell Jonathan that Mina isn’t as innocent as she acts.
Drop dead,
Dracula

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Three Vampires and the ghost driving into the night on our way to kill Rogue Vampires singing along with the soundtrack of Across the Universe.

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“Souls are cheap and keeping them is expensive,” he hissed in my ear with nasty wake-the-dead breath.

We all need our dogs.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Parenting Young Adult Vampires – Quick Notes

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Even after your kids are grown, or in this case sort-of-grown, you still worry about them.

They graduate from high school, turn eighteen, vote, drive, get jobs, go to college, and they’re adults.

Sort of.

They’re also maybe drinking, having sex, forming strong opinions, dabbling in drugs, staying out late, and exploring the dark side of culture.

They’re exploring all sides of culture. That could be a good thing. A mighty good thing.

And if they’re Vampire kids you have a whole other thing to deal with.

It is one thing if your younger child starts to hunt a little on their own, but it is a whole new game when a young Vampire turns into an adult.

This isn’t something you can push off on the old traditions. Our old timers didn’t make the rules in the 1950’s. They made the rules in the 1750’s, and those rules don’t work anymore. Just like with any other parent you need to keep up with your kids, be open and honest, and teach them the rules of the 21st Century Vampire.

Your young adult children are going to start collecting their own sets of donors. Make sure they choose wisely. Guide them. By guiding I don’t mean vague references like “don’t  pick criminals,” or “watch for people with Hep C.” They need to pick safe donors. Safe means people with calm personalities. That means people who live private lives. It means people who can mentally and physically withstand being a donor.

You also need to continue to talk with your kids and be open with them. Donors are not friends. They are not serious lovers. They are not someone you will fall in love with. Sure you can care. Of course you SHOULD care, but not in a romantic way. Never get involved romantically with a donor. Also do not turn your donors into Vampires. Do not EVER let your donor know you’re a Vampire. These are tough conversations you need to have with your young adult children.

Encourage them to attend seminars about avoiding, and dealing with Vampire Hunters. They have enough going on with trying to find jobs, go to school, and juggle their activities, and start to live on their own, without having to deal with someone trying to put a stake through their heart, or worse. Make sure their only heartbreak is the kind they sing about in pop songs, not literally having their heart ripped from their body.

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This is just a quick thought for today. Just a reminder. I’ll go into more depth on the subject later.

In the meantime, no matter how old or young they are, talk to your kids. Talk with them, not at them. Listen to them. Engage them. Laugh with them. Share with them. Learn from them. Yes, learn from them – you’d be surprised what they can teach you.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Short Story Sunday: We Will Be Happy

Standing outside of the gates of the asylum, bag in her hand, coat buttoned up tight against the snow, Kathleen wondered if she should wait for someone. She looked to the right, then looked to the left, then decided to walk to wherever she was going to go.

Looking at her gloved hands she thought of how she tried to wash all the blood off of her fingernails, but the asylum wasn’t big on hygiene and she couldn’t find any soap.

It was torture to be locked up in such a place just for being different. She didn’t eat. She didn’t sleep at night. She was cold and seemed to be dead in her silence, indifference, and stillness. She looked like a young woman but spoke like someone who was much older. But that wasn’t true. It was only what they wanted to see.

She walked into town and stopped by the telegraph office. She didn’t look like an escaped lunatic. She hadn’t really escaped and she was no lunatic.

After she’d sent her message she shopped for new clothes, checked into the finest hotel in the city, and took a long bath with lots of soap, a bottle of wine, a badly written romance novel, and a copy of the local evening news.

The following day she went to the train station and purchased a one way ticket to San Francisco. It was clear across the country but she didn’t mind. It was where she needed to be.

Kathleen sat by the window and waited. A man sat next to her. He was dressed nicely in colors that complimented his pale blonde hair and blue eyes. He was about thirty but his face was boyish and pleasant.

“I’m glad you made it Robert,” she said to him.

“So am I. Thank you so much,” he said.

She smiled and said nothing. Looking out the window she remembered hearing his screams at night, especially when there was a full moon. She remembered how they’d beat him and tried to get him to become is other self on demand. She remembered how the good doctors force fed her and then she’d become violently ill and throw it all up. Then they’d do it again and again. She remembered how the head doctor had come and forced himself upon her because he knew he couldn’t impregnate her because of what she was. He knew that she and Robert were different.

She put her cold hand on Robert’s warm hand. “There is nothing wrong with us. They were the ones who were wrong. We were in our rights to do what we had to do.”

“I know,” he said.

“You aren’t convinced,” she said.

“I’ll get over it,” he said.

He gave her a copy of the morning paper. There had been a horrible incident at the asylum. Six staff members, including the head doctor had been found dead. One man had his throat and gut ripped out, as if a wild animal had attacked him. Four others were found lying in a treatment room. Four were in tubs of water, naked, their bodies bloodless, their genitalia cut off and placed on a table, lined up in a row. The fifth, the head doctor was found in a court-yard, his head cut off and placed atop the flag pole. His bloodless body, minus his manhood, was leaned up against the flag pole, his heart was ripped out of his body and in his hands.

“There is nothing wrong with us Robert. We aren’t insane. We aren’t broken. We’re just different. I don’t like the violence but they hurt so many people. Not just those like us but normal people too. They hurt so many.”

“I know. You already told me that.” said Robert.

“Where we are going there are people like us. We can live in peace without violence or fear. You will be able to run with a pack in the woods on full moon nights. I will be able to live my life in peace. We will be happy.”

“I know,” said Robert giving her hand a squeeze, then letting go. “We will be happy. I know we will.”

They continued their trip, putting their past behind them, and their future ahead.

 

~ end