Short Story Sunday: True Friends

True Friends

The scratching noise was driving him nuts.

“What do you plan on doing with them?” James leaned back in his chair and downed his wine.

“I’m not sure,” said Andrew. “I’ve never had an infestation this bad before.”

“You should just kill them. I’ll help you.”

“They’ve already ruined the rugs in the living room. Damn it James, you were with me when I purchased the Turkish Kilim. I’ve had it for eighty years. I loved that rug.”

“I know a guy who might be able to fix it. He can do wonders with blood stains.”

“It isn’t the stains. Look at the holes in it. Totally ruined.”

James stood up and walked around the rug. “I think we should kill them and dump their bodies in the bay. Or I know a guy who can do that for us.”

Andrew stood in front of the window looking out at rain coming down on his back garden. This was his home. It was his sanctuary. “I should have never opened the front door without looking first, but I thought it might be a neighbor or delivery.”

James came over and put his hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Damn Vampire Hunters.”

Andrew signed and said. “James, why don’t you call your guys. All of your guys. I don’t want to deal with this.”

“Good idea. No need to have to change our clothes. By the way I love your sweater. Cashmere?”

“It is. Soft as my cat. Shawna gave it to me.”

“Good to see you’re finally dating someone with good taste.”

They both looked up. The scratching and muffled screams started again.

Andrew picked his keys up off of the table. “Lets go to breakfast. Solid food sounds good this morning.”

“I know what you mean. I over did it on the blood last night. Holy crap did I ever over do it. I could use some coffee. Bacon too. We have to have bacon.”

“Bacon is always good. Call your guys on the way there. I’ll leave the back door open.”

No need to explain anything else except that friends are always there for each other.  That is always a good thing. xoxoxo

 

~ end

Tangled Tales

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Holy Grail

“I found this in the ship wreck.”

“What is it?”

“The Holy Grail.”

“Another one?”

“Looks like it.”

Durce stood with his friend Morant on the cold beach as they examined the golden cup. Morant stood with a seal skin over his shoulder, dark hair dripping salt water, and wearing nothing else, looking like something like a man off of what would centuries later be called a bodice ripper.

You see, Morant was a Selkie. In the sea Morant was a seal. On land he transformed into a man and kept his seal skin with him. If someone took his seal skin he would never be able to return to his seal form. Fortunately Morant never had that problem.

Druce was a Warlock. In contrast to his dark haired dark eyed friend he had sun streaked hair and bright blue eyes, a look that would centuries later be known as a surfer dude.

But at this time they were living in the time of the Crusades. Everyone was looking for relics such as the finger bone of their favorite saint, a piece of the holy cross, or even the Holy Grail.

“Remember when Merlin came looking for his lost cup for King Arthur? Wink wink wink,” said Morcant.

“Galahad was the most pathetic of the lot,” said Druce as he polished up the cup with his sleeve.

“You’re right about that one. What ever happened to him?”

“He ran off with the daughter of a Viking. It was a PR nightmare for Camelot.”

“No kidding. Why didn’t I hear about that?”

Druce shrugged. He figured Morant must have been either in the ocean or in the bed of an number of women, both regular women and royalty.

“Seriously Druce,” said Morant. “I thought Galahad had sworn an oath of purity.”

“He did. Then again so had the Viking girl. She was to be sacrificed to the Gods but she and Galahad thought it made more sense to just run off together. Oaths of unnatural behavior rarely end well. Last time I heard they’d gone off to a yet to be discovered continent. At least discovered by the general public if you know what I mean,” said Druce. “Put your clothes on, the wind is picking up. You’ll catch your death from the cold.”

They talked as they walked up the beach towards their homes in the village.

“So Druce, how many Holy Grails do you have now?”

“This one makes a dozen,” said Druce with a sly smile.

Over the years he’d gathered Holy Grails from travelers of the world, disenchanted religious folks, lovers, and others. Sometimes he’d bring them out for dinner parties. At other times he’d use them as dishes for honey candy, or vases for wild water lilies.

When someone would bring Druce bits of bones, wood from crosses, vials of virgin’s tears or cloth shrouds, he’d send them up to the monastery on the other side of the hill. That is until Brother Mark ran out of storage space. Now Druce would just send up loaves of his famous seed bread in return for jars of honey from Mark’s amazing hives.

“It is thought,” Morant said, “that the Holy Grail will give one eternal youth. What do you think?”

“I think I have a full set now.”

Morcant laughed out loud and shook the last of the sea water out of his hair. “What do you want for dinner?”

“I don’t care,” said Druce. “As long as we have plenty mead and plenty of good company.”

What is in your heart is more important that what you have in your hand. Enjoy the relics of the past, and savor the hope of the future with good friends and those you love.

~ end

Tangled Tales

More Stories about Druce and Morcant

Off to See the Wizard

Morcant and the Mermaid

House by the Ocean

Permission to Mourn

Circles

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

A Lunch Date With Zombies

This event happened in 2012 but it seems fitting to retell it today, now, considering everything that is happening in a time when truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

 

A Lunch Date With Zombies

Fridays are usually my lunch hunt date. I switched things up this week and took Cody, my young “Vampire in Training” out with me today.

Lunch dates are fun ways for Vampires to hunt right out in the open. They involve fun, flirting, a bit of seduction and just enough blood to get you going for the weekend ahead. And regular humans never even suspect. They just leave the situation feeling warm and fuzzy, a little tired, and they think they’ve, well, you know.

Cody and I had arranged to meet an old friend of mine at my office with an associate of his. They were Lobbyist for the farming industry (after all we’re in the State Capitol and in the largest agricultural state).  Mike and Melissa. I’m in public relations and do work for them from time to time.

Cody is shy by nature, a sweet likeable young man, but when it comes to hunting he is extremely shy. Most new Vampires can’t wait to get hunting, but with Cody it is more of a sweet romance, rather than just taking what one wants.

So to make a short story long, a guy in a suit shows up at the door. He looks like he’s been to hell and back then I recognize him as Mike. Behind him is Melissa, who is usually the perkiest blonde I’ve ever met, looking ashen and un-perkey.

I wonder if someone died, then realize, somebody has. They don’t smell right. They don’t look right. My stomach turns. Even Cody is picking up on something.

I step back.

“Juliette” says Mike “You have to help us.”

He puts his hand on my arm and I immediately feel it – ZOMBIES.

Funny, likable and extremely smart Mike, a sixth generation California farmer, graduate of UCD (THE Farm School) and successful advocate for the farmer is now…for all practical purposes DEAD.

And don’t give me any crap about being a Vampire. My flesh isn’t rotting and I’m not craving human brains for lunch. Plus I know where my soul is.

I’m confused. Both Mike and Melissa look good, all things considering.

Plus I thought all the Zombies had been confined to a compound in the Mojave Desert outside of Barstow.

“We’ve taken massive amounts of antibiotics to help prevent the rot and we’ve been drinking a lot of embalming fluid. That keeps the smell off and slows down the rot.” Mike told us.

The pair was driving across the Imperial Valley when they were stopped at a roadblock. Little did they know what seemed to be police were actually rogue Zombies.  Later that night they were picked up by the authorities and brought to the super secret Area Z, where Zombies are kept to be monitored and studied.

I thought of long afternoons with Mike and how sweet his blood tasted. I thought of the slow seductions and languid after glows. Now here he was, doing everything he could to keep his skin from falling off in sheets. Holy crap, this was bad.

“What do you need?” I asked.

Mike put a hand to his face, adjusting his left eye back into the socket. “I want you to turn us into Vampires.”

OK, this is where the sound effects do a screeching halt. The very idea of a Zombie is revolting but putting my lips on the flesh of a Zombie and sharing blood. Putrid rotting blood.

“Has this ever been done?” Asked Cody.

“No, or at least never that I’ve heard of.” I said. “So much could go wrong.”

“Nothing could be worse than it is already.” Melissa wailed and watched as her thumbnail fell to the floor along with the tip of her thumb.

I thought about it for a moment then spoke in secret to Cody. I had an idea. If it worked we’d be heroes. If it didn’t we’d have to kill the Zombies, no matter that they were our friends.

I took Cody into the small kitchen area of the office where we bit into our wrists and let our own Vampire blood drain into two coffee cups.

The Zombies drank and before our eyes their skin went from gray to the color of their former living flesh (peaches & cream and coffee & cream – Vampires always think of everyone in terms of food, we can’t help it).

“I won’t turn you, not yet, but see if this helps. Don’t tell a soul, or anyone without a soul. Don’t tell anyone or I will hunt you down and kill you myself. Do you understand?”

They said they understood. I thought my stomach was going to drop out and my head would explode as they left the building.

Cody was about to speak when I told him. “The same goes to you Cody. If you tell a soul I will kill you and it won’t be fast or painless.”

“Got it.” Said Cody. I thought of my favorite movie line and said to Cody. “This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Cody smiled.  Then and there I knew he’d make a great Vampire.

I’ll keep you posted on Mike and Melissa – when and if I hear anything.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Note: Yes, you might have seen this post before. We can’t forget our Zombie friends. They might be falling apart but we still love them.

Short Story Sunday: Goji and the Angel

Diana Author Photo

Diana Garcia

Goji and the Angel

By Diana Garcia

 

Angel Rodriguez did not like it one bit.  She was stuck.  She heard a click as she turned the key and pumped the gas pedal, but nothing happened. So, here she was in the middle of the desert, in the middle of the night.

She sure as hell was not going out there in the dark to look for help. Her cell phone was dead so she would not go out until morning to look for other hikers.

Just go to sleep,she thought.

The the cacophony of night noises made it hard. It was the usual desert sounds she heard late at night but in the comfort of her own bed. Out here, it was different. Packs of passing and yipping howling coyotes, things slithering in the dirt right outside the car, and black shadows flying low and shrieking past her car windows. The Arizona desert was teeming with active night denizens and the hot wind did not dissipate, nor give reprieve, with the setting of the sun. Even with the windows rolled halfway down Angel found it hard to breathe. Sweat dripped into her eyes every time she attempted to close them.

Angel fanned herself with a piece of cardboard as she lay low in the back seat of her car. She gazed out of the rear windshield. The obsidian panorama contributed to her fearful thoughts. Not even stars to calm her terror and anxiety. Where the hell were the stars?Where the fuck is the moon?Oh, there it was, a thin slivered sickle of grayish glow off in the distance peeked out as dark clouds moved on to be replaced by other dark clouds, like a broken neon sign with burnt out bulbs.

Speaking out loud to no one Angel said,

“Okay, that’s enough Angel. Close your eyes and think of good things, shhhhh.”

The calming mantra worked for about two minutes. Now she had to go pee.

“Oh fuck. Do I piss my pants or should I go outside?”

Angel opened the door and slid out of the car to urinate. There was no other choice. She was squatting while with one hand she held her jeans and panties out of the stream’s way, and with the other hand she firmly held onto the door handle. Touching the car gave her a sense of security.

The day before, Angel had been driving in the desolate desert searching for a hidden treasure mapped out on butcher paper given to her by an old injured prospector she and her fellow rescue workers were bringing down the Superstition Mountains. Yes, there were still people searching for the lost Dutchman’s gold in this day and age.  Angel was in the EMT truck setting up the IV for the dehydrated old man who moaned in pain with his eyes closed. He suddenly grabbed her arm and said,

“In my front pocket, dear”

“What did you say, sir?”

“In my front pocket. Get the map.” His tone was urgent but his ragged breathing made him hard to understand. He took long pauses between each word.

Angel reached into the man’s pocket and pulled out a bundle wrapped in faded blue checked cloth and said, “This? You want this, sir?”

The old man held a firm grip on her arm and whispered,

“The fucking gold is NOT in the Superstitions. I buried it about fifteen miles east of here. That’s the map,” he said as he looked at the bundle in Angel’s hand.

“But sir, I don’t want this. Why don’t I put it in your backpack for safe keeping, okay? For when you get out of the hospital.”

“No, dear. You don’t understand, I’m dying. I have lung cancer. I thought I was being followed so I backtracked after burying the gold and took the Peralta Trail back into the mountain to throw the buggers off. I was being followed. I know it.” Angel held the back of his head as he coughed blood into a handful of tissues she held to his mouth.

After he stopped coughing, Angel asked in order to appease the distressed man, “So you want me to use the map and get your gold and bring it to you?”

She was an Arizona native and stories about the Lost Dutchman Mine and treasure was the stuff of campfire storytelling lore, nothing more than that.

The man calmed down, released his hold on Angel’s arm, looked into her eyes and said, “No dear, I want you to get the gold and use it for you and your family. Do big things with it. You saved me from getting killed. I’d rather a good person have it than those buggers,” whispered the man as he closed his eyes.

“But sir, I can’t do that. This is your property. Please. You’ll be fine. You’re just dehydrated. We’ll get you taken care of and you’ll be fine.”

“No. Listen, I’ve been moving that gold around in different parts for sixty years. My grandpa and great grandpa did the same before me. We kept the legend alive. Do you hear me? I was a doctor back in my day. My wife and sons are now long dead. I’m dying. I just can’t keep this up anymore. Please don’t tell anyone. Just let the legend live.”

Angel looked at the man’s pale blue eyes and saw truth and loss there. She nodded and zipped the bundle in her work jacket and continued working on the man as they were driven away into town.

_______

Angel had hiked down a steep crevasse. An avid mountain climber and hiker, Angel was no stranger to the harsh and scorching landscape that was the Arizona desert. She had told her friends and family that she needed some time off and was going camping and hiking on her own. This was not unusual for Angel so her family and friends thought nothing of her little weekend escape and was told to be careful. Angel had decided that looking for the gold using the old man’s map would be something fun and was looking forward to her “escape” from work and the routine stuff that comes with living in the busy city of Phoenix. However, during her drive east of the Superstition Mountains she had been questioning if she was nuts.

The map was clear and concise and Angel figured the old man had been in the military and it was evidence that he was a seasoned hiker and map maker. It was a well-made topographical map with coordinates which illustrated elevation and contour lines of hills, various landforms, and crevasses. It was an expert depiction of the ground relief, terrain, and even the flow of creeks and animal or human trails. Angel was athletic enough that she did not foresee any problem with locating a hidden treasure. She contemplated about what she would do with the gold, if indeed there was any. She wondered what it would feel like to be out of debt, especially her college loans.

The old man had died the next morning at Banner Goldfield Medical Center. He refused to speak with anyone, except Angel. She held his hand as he took his last breath. She felt a deep sadness. She had never lost anyone close to her but had seen many people and children die in her work. Angel had been a rescue EMT for 8 years and had many rescue stories, some devastating and with only a few happy outcomes. She lectured at schools and community colleges regarding desert search and rescue, and how to recognize, treat and avoid heat exhaustion.

Angel hurt for the old guy because she never even asked his name. He had died without any identification. When the rescue team found him, they just called him the “old guy.”

Once back in civilization she would make sure the first thing to do would be to trade in her old car for a new off-road vehicle.

________________

Now it was midnight and she was peeing in the desert.

As Angel pulled up her pants, she heard a loud THUD. She felt the car jump with the weight of whatever landed on the car. She yelped and jumped away, but it was so dark and her eyes had adjusted about as good as they were going to adjust. Regardless, she was blinded by dark shadows.

She heard a WHOOSH and felt the pressure of a blast of air like giant bird wings flapping. She crouched low where she had been standing and yelled out into the darkness, “What the hell!”

The car’s rear tires bounced off the ground and then another THUD landed directly in front of her. It had kicked up dirt and rocks. Angel choked and coughed in panic.

“Calm down” said a deep voice, then again soothingly, “Calm down.”

Angel stood and reached out like a blind woman, “Who’s there? I can’t see.”

“Here drink some water and wash your face.  I got this water bottle out of your car” said the voice.

“Um-Okay.” she said as she felt the water bottle pressing into her hand and did as she was told.

“Can you see me now?” said the voice.

Angel looked hard and couldn’t believe the shadowy outline of what stood before her. She closed her eyes and opened them again.

“You’re a giant,” she whispered. “Oh my gawd.” She gazed upward at a being that appeared to be over eight feet tall.

“I won’t hurt you,” it said.

“Are those w-wings?”

The creature’s yellow eyes glowed like starshine and a visceral light emanated from them.

“What the fuck are you?”

“I am stuff of legends, dear.”

Huge clawed hands touched muscular thighs as the thing bent low so they could look at each other face to face.

“Listen, I won’t hurt you. I’m bending so you can see my face. Horrific, I know, but I’m good.”

Angel covered her mouth with both hands as she gazed at the creature before her. His look was penetrating and made her feel as if he could see into her soul. It was a hypnotic pull. She felt the urge to scream in terror and to run into the darkness.

She willed herself to stay calm and to speak.

“You resemble the gargoyles of Notre Dame.” Said Angel as she gulped for air. “I saw statues of you when I traveled abroad.”

A deep throated laughter emanated from the creature. It sent a chill up her spine. She felt every little hair on her arms and neck stand on end.

“I’m not from France. Don’t mean to scare you.”

“Then, who are you? What are you? You speak good English.”

“My name is Goji. Pleased to meet you. And you are?”

“Hi, I’m Angel,” she whispered as he straightened up to full height.

“Ahhhhh, a glorious angel stands before me.”

The gargoyle regally bowed his head and said,

“Why are you out here in the middle of the night where dangerous creatures abound?”

“Do you mind if I grab my camping chair from the back. I need to sit. I’m shaking so hard that I don’t think I can stand much longer.”

“Please do.”

Angel walked to the back of the SUV and lifted the hatch and pulled out two camping chairs.

She offered one of them to the gargoyle, he said,

“Oh no dear, I’ll break it. You sit. I will lean against your car, if you don’t mind?”

Angel sat in the cloth chair, glad to be off her feet. She was still shaking, but not from being cold. Even so, she was intrigued and wondered if she was dreaming.

“Am I dreaming?” She said out loud not expecting an answer.

“No, I saw you were stranded and wondered if you would seek help or if other humans would find you. I’ve been watching from afar.”

Angel was speechless, so he continued, “I flew down because earlier I smelled a mountain lion nearby and felt I needed to protect you.”

“After all, that is what we gargoyles do.” He made air quotes at his use of the word gargoyle. “We protect.”

Goji leaned against the SUV with one ankle crossing his other as he stood. His muscular arms and hands reached back as he nonchalantly leaned into the car.

There was an awkward silence. Angel stared at the monstrous thing before her. His face was apelike but his ears were long and the top point of each curved forward. Unlike an ape, there was no hair on his face or body. The legs were long and muscular. They looked like photos she’d seen in her ex-boyfriend’s bodybuilding magazines. Goji had high cheekbones and the enormous almond shaped yellow eyes gave his chiseled face an Asian look. His lips were full and out of his mouth jutted curved tusks, like a wild boar.

Angel asked, “Where are you from? Have you always been here in this desert?”

“I was born long ago in the sedge lands of Kemet, what you would call Egypt.”

Angel nodded, and said, “Was it an insult to call you a gargoyle?”

“No, I laughed because that word means ‘throat’ or ‘gullet’ relegating my kind as stone water spouts. It just makes me laugh.”

“I’m sorry. That is funny. I suppose the stone gargoyles served their purpose. Then, what are you?”

“We are ancients. As I said, my kind originated in the riverbanks of Kemet long before humankind appeared. You may just call me Goji.”

“How did you learn to speak English?”

“Long ago. I also speak Akkadian, Sumerian, Cappadocian, Arabic, French, actually, many languages. I’ve been around for millennia so I’ve picked up a few things, like languages.”

“Millenia? Wow. Why are you here, in the desert? Angel spread her arms out to signify the area.

“I’ve always loved the desert. This Arizona desert reminds me of home, far way, but it makes me reminiscent. Frankly, humanity tires me with their wars and pollution and the noise. Ugh. I hate all the noise you humans make.” He made his large pointy ears flap to accentuate that noise bothers him.

Angel laughed at his flapping ears. She felt more at ease.

The soft glow of a new dawn peeked gingerly from the far mountains and a warm breeze blew through the surrounding scrub and acacia trees. Angel walked to her open front passenger door and asked Goji if he wanted a bottle of water. He motioned his head no and watched her reach in for a new bottle from the open ice chest on the front seat.

She sat back down and asked, “So, what do your kind eat and drink?”

“Oh, I drink creek water and I like meat, lots of meat: rats, deer, and I occasionally like to scare up a mountain lion. That’s how I found you. I was keeping watch.”

Angel looked at his tusks in wonderment and felt chilled all over again.

“Do you often appear to humans?”

“Hardly ever. But I once had an enlightening conversation with the bishop of Rouen who spread lies about me and told his people that he killed me by holding his mighty crucifix at me. He was a pervert who manipulated the Merovingian stock, but I won’t get into that.”

Angel laughed and said, “You’re funny. Thanks for not tearing me to shreds with your tusks and those scary claws.”

Goji looked at his hands and smiled.

“So, what are you doing broken down in the middle of nowhere?”

Angel raised her eyebrows and said, “If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.”

“Try me.”

“Well, me and my crew, Um, I work for an emergency response team, S-A-R, Search and Rescue, and my crew was dispatched to rescue this old guy from the Superstition Mountains the other day and he gave me a map when I was treating him for dehydration.” Feeling a little embarrassed, she paused.

“Go on.”

“Well, long story short, we did the emergency search and rescue. I treated the very dehydrated old man. He gave me a map and told me it would show me where he hid a treasure. The gold from the Lost Dutchman Mine. He said he and his family have been moving it and hiding it for years, his father and great-grandfather, etc.” Angel looked at her hands, “He died the next day at the hospital.”

“So, Old Kellerman died.”

Surprised at Goji’s statement, Angel asked,

“You knew the old guy? I didn’t know his name. He said he was a doctor.”

“Yes, Dr. Kellerman. Poor man died. Sad.” Goji looked down and shook his head.

Angel whispered, “I’m sorry. He told me he was dying of lung cancer.”

“Kellerman was supposed to meet me at a designated spot three days ago but he never made it. Now I know why. Pardon me.”

Angel watched Goji walk a few feet away as he looked up towards the orange glow of the awakening sun. He turned and walked back towards her. His enormous wings stretched out then fanned in. Angel choked on her water when she saw the wingspan and pretended to cough.

She said, “I’m sorry I gave you the bad news. I felt really sorry for him. He had no I.D. on him when we brought him in. He wouldn’t talk with anyone except me.”

“Kellerman was my only friend. His father was also a friend. So was his grandfather and great-grandfather.”

“I’m so sorry Mr. Goji”

“Just Goji. Thanks.”

“I helped the family hide a vast treasure and have been helping them do this for a very long time. I am the guardian of that treasure.” When Angel did not respond he continued,

“The Kellerman’s were originally prospectors who found a huge vein here in the southwest. They later became mining magnates. Some of their offspring went on to be politicians, lawyers, and doctors. Good people. The Kellermans enjoyed the old stories that a German immigrant by the name of Jacob Waltz found the gold. Waltz was a boastful drunken braggart and the Kellermans never corrected the rumors.”

“So, everything the old man told me is true?”

“Yes. Do you have the map? Can I see it?”

Angel got the flashlight and map from her glovebox and handed both to Goji.

He unfolded the map on the hood of the car, then fumbled with the flashlight.

Angel grabbed it from him and pressed the button. She shined the light on Goji to get a better look at him.

“Wow,” she said, “You look fearsome but somehow I’m not afraid of you any longer.”

Goji grabbed the flashlight from her in embarrassment.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to stare. That was rude.”

“That’s okay, I just don’t want to scare you with my beauty. No worries,” he said with a smile.

He pointed to the map with a clawed finger, “See that?”

Angel looked at the map where his clawed finger pointed at a drawing in the corner at the edge.

“I didn’t remember seeing that. It’s a winged creature. It’s a drawing of you on top of a mountain.”

“Kellerman was a good artist. He was always drawing pictures of me when he was a kid. Yes, this is Kellerman’s map.

Angel asked, “He said someone had been following him. Do you think someone knew about the map?”

“Yes, I found two guys lost around the area I was to meet Kellerman. While they were sleeping I found some guns and bottles of booze in their bags. I hid but followed them and heard them talking about killing some old guy. Apparently, they cozied up to Old Kellerman at a bar and while he was drunk he started talking about a lost treasure only he knew where it was hidden. Old Kellerman apparently told them he was to meet someone to help him move the gold. That’s why they were waiting to ambush him.”

Angel asked, “Why would he tell people about it?”

“I don’t think people really ever believed him when he spoke about it. He started drinking a lot after his family died off. I told him never to say anything, but I guess he was rambling and these guys started following him.”

“He seemed pretty scared when we found him. I wonder what happened to those men who had been following him?”

“I broke their necks while they slept at their campsite”

Dumbfounded, Angel just looked at Goji.

“I know. I wouldn’t have killed them but they were talking about killing Old Kellerman. I’ve been friends with the family for over a hundred and fifty years. I was not going to let anything happen to him.”

“I understand, but what did you do with the bodies?”

“I threw their clothes and things in a garbage dumpster in a Gold Canyon housing development and then flew back and laid their bodies in an area where I saw a vulture family nesting.”

“What the fuck?”

“Well, at least it was a humane thing to do. The vulture family had fledglings so the bodies did not go to waste.”

“Oh, okay, I feel better now,” said Angel with a sarcastic tone.

The giant gargoyle ripped the map to shreds.

Angel reached out with her hand but it was too late, “Why did you do that?”

He turned to her and said, “Why do you need the map? I just told you I’m the guardian of the treasure.”

“I, I liked it. I would have kept it as a keepsake.”

“Look Ms. Angel, I have dozens of old maps made by the Kellermans in my cave. I’ll give you the last one he made before this.”

Angel looked up at Goji as the sun rose high over the mountain. His presence among a desert landscape she had always known made her wonder what other things unknown hid among the boulders and rocks surrounding them.

“This is going to sound weird, but have you ever flown a human from one place to another?”

“Yes, once, Old Kellerman when he was a teen. He had asked many times when he was younger but I always refused. It had to be at night. I have always been very careful.” He looked away and closed his eyes for a moment. It was a painful memory of a time past.

“Okay, so, this is weird, no one will believe this, but can you fly me to the nearest gas station?”

“I’m sorry, no,” said the gargoyle.

“What? Why?”

“I mean to say no, not now. When It’s dark I will be happy to fly you near a gas station or closer to civilization.”

Angel muttered to herself, “One more day out here in this heat. My car is too hot. This is crazy.”

“I can, however, fly you nearby.”

Goji pointed to a far mountain spine which spanned the landscape. “I stay in a cave up there. It’s cool away from the sun. Actually, it gets cold. I have food and water if you like?”

Angel, looked up at him, then glanced at the sun which was soon to be high up and the heat would begin baking things like an earthly convection oven.

“Okay, let me get my backpack out of the car.”

She strapped the backpack in front of her body instead of her back as Goji instructed her. He bent and wrapped his huge arms around her small waist and began lifting her. His wings were not like those of a bird, but like those of a bat, a gigantic bat. The heat from his body seared her back and neck and she cried out as they flew away, his tight hold on her while they lifted off made her feel faint. She opened her eyes and looked down. Her car looked like a tiny speck among the landscape of saguaro and mesquite trees. The wavy heat blast of hot winds accompanied their flight as they passed ravens and hawks circling wide and out of their way. He gently lowered her as the beat of wings slowed and the dust settled.

They quietly stood on the steep cliffside looking out at the vibrant colors and hues of greens and browns and shadows that undulated across the panoramic view of the desert. It was breathtaking.

Angel sighed and looked around. “I don’t see a cave.”

“Of course not. It’s hidden.”

Goji effortlessly moved a giant boulder which to Angel had only appeared to be part of the mountain.

He stood before an opening and bowed, “After you.”

Angel wasn’t sure if she should enter the beckoning darkness of what looked like a huge cavern, much of which was the mountain itself. She gingerly entered the cave. They followed a downward path for what seemed like hours. Angel noticed the cooling temperature as they descended. After a time, she was able to see her surroundings as a strange glow appeared around a sharp bend in their path.

Long jagged and pointy russet-gold stalagmites jutted down from the top of the cavernous space high above her. The enormous razor spikes emitted an incandescent bioluminescent glow from bright mosses that hung in between them. It was truly a vision to behold. Angel was an avid hiker and spelunker and relished the idea of spending a lot of time exploring this mountain. With head turned upward she turned in circles and smiled gleefully.

“Wow!” Was all she felt compelled to say. A voice echoed back with another “Wow!” No other words could describe the awe she felt at that moment. A mythical gargoyle, this amazing cavern. What next?

“Watch your step, Ms. Angel,” Said Goji. He pointed down.

“This is bottomless. I would never find you if you fell.”

Angel fell to her knees and peered into a giant pit. With mouth open she turned to look up at Goji.

“Seriously? Bottomless?”

“As far as I have been able to determine. Please step away from there.” He grabbed her arm and helped her up. He steered Angel toward an archway that led into another cave.

“Please have a seat. We have much to discuss.”

The cave was smaller than the cavernous entry. A stream of water trickled nearby. She watched Goji round the large room lighting torches embedded into the rock walls. He grabbed a rope and gently lowered a medieval looking wrought iron round light fixture with hundreds of candles. The sound of the babbling brook echoed as Angel watched Goji patiently light the candles.

He said, “I haven’t lit these in over a century.”

“It’s very beautiful in here,” said Angel as she walked around looking at faded hanging tapestries that belonged in a castle. They looked hauntingly out of place among the jutting red rock walls. The fire’s illuminating glow revealed an ancient petroglyph on the farthest wall in the cave. It depicted a herd of pronghorn antelope that appeared to be running with the flickering shadows of the nearby torchlight, squiggly lines in a row to signify water, dragonflies, and hand imprints with the infinity circle inside the palm. Angel pressed her hand atop one of those hands and kept it there as she imagined who made these wonderous images. Angel had been lost in thought but then turned and found Goji staring at her.

He whispered, “The artwork of an ancient people.” His reverence bespoke that he was equally amazed as she.

Frayed and torn red and blue velvet chairs and couches from another century encircled a fire pit.

“Thank you for trusting me to bring you here,” he said as he sat on an immense block of basalt. “You are the first human I’ve ever brought in here.” He paused. Silence.

Angel suddenly felt nervous. The feeling of being on the precipice of new and unfathomable experiences and emotions did not elude her. She felt special and chosen for a big responsibility. She waited.

“So, I have one request before I bestow my new young,” He paused, took a deep intake of breath, and continued, “and very beautiful new friend with riches beyond belief.”

His yellow eyes bored into Angel. They burned into her soul and she felt shaken but could only stare back at him in fear.

“Are you sure you told no one of the map or what Old Kellerman said to you? I need to be sure.”

“No. I did not mention it to anyone. I felt no one would believe me anyway. My coworkers are jokesters when we’re not working, and since I’m the only female crew member they like to rib me and poke fun, but it’s all in good sport. We get together, but I felt they would make fun of me or make fun of the old guy. I felt really sorry for him. He was so intense.”

“Well then, Ms. Angel, I have a proposition for you. Hear me out.” Goji leaned closer to her and took hold of her hand. It looked small and fragile in his. She noticed his claws were razor sharp, yet, at that moment, her fear dissipated with his warm touch.

“Ms. Angel?”

“Yes?”

“Will you do me the honor of being my friend?”

The pleading intensity with which his almond shaped fiery eyes looked into hers was hopeful, a raw innocence, childlike. It was a simple request, yet it was a plea, a deep longing for a friend. Angel knew this friendship would be the greatest treasure of all. This lonely giant soul needed a friend.

Tears pooled and flowed down her cheeks at the sadness and loneliness this plea exuded. She could not fathom a loneliness that extended centuries.

Angel wiped the tears away and with a smile said,

“I would be truly honored Goji.”

__________

Years passed.

Angel went to medical school and became a respected trauma surgeon. People grew tired of wondering where she would disappear for weeks, sometimes months, at a time. She was so mysterious that they eventually stopped wondering, or worrying, about her disappearances.

Goji and Angel became the best of friends. He relished their discussions about religion, politics, and life in general. He wanted details and the minutia of all the experiences she recounted of her daily life. He was fascinated with technology and the human advancements in science and space travel. Discussions of alien worlds, UFOs, quantum physics, and multiverses, and nanotechnology were his favorite topics of discussion. She brought books, newspapers, and magazines to his cave. His thirst for any and all information was voracious.

The day Angel gave Goji a smartphone they both laughed because she was his only listed contact. She rolled on the floor, laughing uncontrollably, in her office the day she received a selfie from him.

In time, Angel created the GOJI Charitable Foundation which helped the poor and sick around the world.  Hospitals and research facilities in the Kellerman name were founded. This was the dream of both Goji and Angel. They worked together on all of these projects. Angel sought Goji’s advice on everything. It was a marriage of sorts.

Their fondness for each other was unspoken and unrequited, yet clearly evident in the amount of time they spent together, in that cavern, or on those long and moonlit night flights they so loved to take together.

Throughout the years, Goji and Angel, planned and arranged meeting at mapped out destinations around the world. They walked among Egyptian and Aztec pyramids on moonless nights. The South American jungles held no fear for Angel as long as she walked with Goji. Angel charted planes to private islands, and there she would wait for Goji to alight on the midnight beaches where they would walk and talk until daylight. A winged preternatural being landing in a foggy landscape was a sight to behold, and it never ceased to fill Angel with heart-pounding awe.

__________

One evening, Angel died in Goji’s arms. It was where she wanted to be. For over sixty-five years they had been dear friends, comrades, and confidants. Later, in a private ceremony, seen only by bats and quiet slithering things, Goji threw a handful of orange and yellow cactus blooms and wildflowers. He watched them float downward, into the bottomless pit, now a sacred sepulcher. A soft echo of a whisper floated upward, then silence. He stood motionless at the edge for hours, like a stone statue on the high parapet of an ancient cathedral.

Not long after that, Goji, an ancient from Kemet, moved the boulder into place to hide the cavern forever and he flew off into an obsidian Arizona night.

 

~ end

 

Gargoyle

 

Diana Garcia is an Arizona native currently residing in Prescott, Arizona. She has a journalism degree from Arizona State University, Walter Cronkrite School; and is a researcher, photojournalist, performance poet and storyteller. Short stories of varying genres are her favorite story telling medium, which have been published, along with her poetry, in a few anthologies. Her writing strongly reflects her strong cultural ties to her indigenous Mexica and Xicano heritage. She is currently researching and writing a historical novel, as well as an anthology of her poetry and short stories.

Note from Juliette:

I love this story so much. Thank you Diana for writing it and letting me share it with my readers. All of her stories are from the heart and will transport you to another time and place.

For more information about Diana and her other works please see the FaceBook link below. Or click here for more information.

“Goji and the Angel” was featured in the WPaD Anthology “Weirder Tales.

Diana is a founding member of WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants) and I am proud and honored to say she is my friend. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Weird Tales_Diana_11x17 (3)

 

Tangled Tales: Permission to Mourn

Druce the Warlock was missing his friend Morcant the Selkie.

Druce was missing a lot of old friends as he stayed at home like everyone else. He’d stopped listening to the daily updates from Governor Newsom. The only thing he’d look at was the map of where the virus had hit the hardest, and the grim numbers. In other centuries it might not have been so unusual but it would have still been bad. People would still be mourning the loss of those they loved, staying at home, and waiting for the unknown darkness to end.

He’d driven a hard bargain so that he wouldn’t suffer an early death. That was almost two thousand years ago. Back in the 5th Century he couldn’t have imagined in his wildest Warlock dreams what the future would hold, especially not the the 21st Century.

Morcant, with his quick smile, and unending charm, had succumbed to old age years ago. Even a Selkie who was both from the land and the sea, and lived longer than most Earth creatures couldn’t live forever.

The banshee Milen has a sore throat. She’d been watching. Watching and waiting. She was also weary.

She go out with her red hair, gray cloak, pale skin, white dress, in the tradition of Irish Banshees. When she was especially animated or in the throes of passion he could still hear the Irish in her voice.

Tonight her red hair was loose down her back, her skin was pale, but she wore sweat pants and leggings. For the rest of the night she’d be in a physical form.

He’d met them all. Assorted reapers, vampires, spirits, demons, witches, wizards, and every assorted freak and keeper of magic and wonder and wickedness. He thought more of wonder, as in good things, about those who inhabited the places most people could not see or feel.

Milen took a sip of wine from a crystal goblet and gave Druce a sad look. “Is there anything you can do, or conjure up from the spirit world to make this virus go away?”

“Darling, I can’t do anything about a virus. I can make someone fall in love, or make a night sky light up with sparks, but I can’t stop a virus.”

“Odd that something so small can cause so much harm.”

“Our bodies, well, not our bodies, but living beings are made up of tiny particles and then attacked by tiny particles. Those particles don’t care who you are or how much power you hold. They don’t follow a god, or any rules of conduct, or care who lives or dies. They just are. You just have to stay home and wash your hands a lot.”

Druce tended to be a positive person for a Warlock. He always looked on the bright side of life.

“How are you holding up Milen?”

“Alright I suppose. It could be worse. I could be in New York, or elsewhere on the East Coast. I have friends who were in Italy and China.”

She rolled her shoulders then leaned back on the couch. “I give people permission to mourn. I give them warning. I settle their grief.”

Taking her hand Druce sat next to her. “You are not to be feared.”

“I warn them and let them know that bonds are about to be broken, not by screams but by sinking feelings in their stomachs and the sense that they are about to have their souls emptied out. I used to just scream, but that doesn’t work anymore, it just makes something think a violent crime is being committed. So it is just a silent scream now, not just for those who have a virus but for all of those who are sick, in accidents, fall by the hands of others, or take their own lives.”

Putting her head on Druce’s shoulder she sighed and closed her eyes. He stroked her hair, then she turned her head and kissed him.

In the morning she was gone. The sweatshirt and leggings were neatly folded and placed on the top of his dresser. Bruce went online and ordered pastries, crepes, and coffee from the local bakery. He’d put on his face mask and go pick them up. He missed the mornings when he could meet friends outside and talk for hours over coffee and the best croissants outside of France. Maybe they were better than anything in France.

He thought of so long ago, the day he and his friend Morcant met Merlin the Wizard for the first time. As always Druce had baked his famous seed bread. It was Morcant’s favorite. It had been centuries since he’d baked his seed bread in an outside wood stove. Maybe later he’d bake some in his modern kitchen, that is if he could find the ingredients. It had been two weeks since he’d gone to the store. Maybe today he’d take his changes and go out. He wouldn’t get sick enough to die, but he had to make sure he couldn’t accidentally get anyone else sick.

He could give you sweet dreams or nightmares, or bring good fortune or sadness, but he refused to bring illness to those who were innocent.

It was a beautiful day with the sun shining and the trees full of tiny song birds. He got out a face mask, put his reusable bags in the trunk of his car, and headed to the store.

Things were bad, but in some ways, in most ways, things had never been better.

 

Druce’s Seed Muffins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

2 cups whole wheat flour (you may use 1/2 white flour if you prefer)

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

Zest from 1 lemon or orange (optional)

1 egg beaten

1/2 cup canola oil or melted butter (if you use butter a half oil half butter mix works best)

1/3 cup honey or molasses

1 1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds,

1/4 cup toasted walnuts

Combine dry ingredients. Fold in wed ingredients with as few strokes as pollible, bust until the flour is moistened, leaving a few lumps. Spoon into greased muffin tins, or use paper muffin cup liners.

Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the muffin comes out clean.

As an option sprinkle the tops of muffins with white sugar before baking.

You may also exchange the seeds in this recipe for any of your favorite seeds or nuts.

~end

 

Tangled Tales

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Maxed Out #3: Demons

First published in 2014.

strangereyes

My eldest brother Max, for those of you who don’t know, is one of those alpha Vampires who hunts Vampire Hunters, Rogue Vampires and all sorts of nasty evil and just plain annoying creatures and things that go bump in the night. He is a hunter and sometimes a killer – that said, he and his associates protect us all from things we shouldn’t need to deal with.

Max looked like Hell warmed over. He’d been out on a call and found himself up against a group of Demons. Yes, that kind of Demon – nasty and evil, no doubt straight from Hell and running rampant trying to cause problems anywhere it could.

Teddy still has the cold hard fear of Demons. That isn’t a bad thing. We don’t like them. They’re creatures that don’t derive from humanity but like goblins, have no problems pretending they derive from humans.

A long nasty deep pair of scratches ran across Max’s arm. There was no sign of healing on the ugly red marks. He’d been cornered and put up a fight before his back-up team arrived. The Demons were taken care of but not first without doing damage to Max and who knows who or what else.

Late into the night we talked over several bottles of wine and blood. Our brother Andy came by as well for a few hours to visit. Max was restless the entire night. Just before dawn we all retired to spend a rare day sleeping (Teddy and I live during the daylight due to school hours.)

I was awake before dusk. It was a beautiful clear day. From the back window I could see a panoramic view of the San Francisco Bay going out into the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. No wonder Max loved living here so much.

In the kitchen making tea I discovered Max’s old friend Celeste. She was beautiful beyond compare, wearing nothing but a pair of black lace panties and a magnificent seal skin coat. That wasn’t unusual because Celeste is a Selkie. On the land she is a women and in the ocean a seal. I was and wasn’t surprised to find her there. Max says he won’t mingle with those who aren’t like him, but I know who his friends are. I have no problems with Celeste or her kind.

Celeste rolled her shoulders and told me about my brother. “He called me last night. Said he needed some distraction. You know how Max is. His brain just gets full or he gets bothered and doesn’t know what to do about it. You know, Juliette we’re just friends with benefits. I just fuck him and talk. Nothing else. You think I’d be crazy enough to fall in love with a Vampire? Not on your life. Just friends. Always just friends.

Celeste then put a wedge of lemon in her tea and continued, “There is someone else, a Vampire girl he has a strange sort of bond with, but he doesn’t want any emotional entanglements with her. He was afraid she’d be too much for him, for his heart. I’ve never seen a guy try to logic and think his way out of falling in love like Max has this time.”

I saw a long burn along Celeste’s arm. “Oh that. I brushed against Max’s arm where the demon scratched him. Damned if it didn’t burn me too. The salt water will heal it. But you need to check in on him. He’s in pretty bad shape. The Demons really got to him this time and not just physically. They really fucked with him big time,” she told me in her whiskey and silk voice.

I took her arm and looked at the burn. It was hot to the touch. I spit on my finger and rubbed it along the burn.

“It stopped hurting. Thanks,” she said with a smile full of sharp white teeth. It was a smile that she won’t show a Regular Human. I have to admit I was flattered.

After a bit more small talk she left and no doubt went back into the Pacific Ocean and turned back into a seal.

I went upstairs to Max’s room. He was asleep, curled in soft gray blankets wearing a black silk robe. I took his arm and looked at the deep scratches that had turned an angry blackish red.

He opened his eyes. The usual blue gray hazel had turned dark, almost a dull black. I could tell he wasn’t well.

“I saw Celeste. She is worried about you.”

He gave me a “join the club” look. He didn’t need to say it out loud.

Taking his arm, I put my hand over the poisoned gashes and saw the ugly face of the Demon who clawed him.

“Don’t little sister. You’ll get sick,” Max said.

Ignoring him pricked my finger with the tip of my fang and let a drop of blood fall on his wounds. I put my hand back on his arm and willed the poison away.

Yes, I did end up making it to the bathroom before I threw up and almost fell over from my head spinning, but I was fine after a few minutes (ok hours). The poison wasn’t meant for me so I was fine – bothered but fine. It could have stayed with Max for weeks or even months. It could have set him back into a spiral of depression and hopelessness that if not taken care of could have done permanent damage. Demons are like that. They’re horrible evil things.

I kissed his cold cheek and left my brother to sleep.

When someone you love is poisoned by Demons you need to help them get through it – no matter what kind of Demons. They do a lot of damage, but it can be fixed. Demons hate any kind of love or understanding and will poison us against it. So we fight them. And those like Max fight them so they can’t hurt anyone else.

Like I’ve said, when you’re a Modern Vampire every single day has the potential of being weird, but we do what we can do avoid it.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman