Pandemic ABC’s

A is for asshole who won’t wear a mask.

B is for baking at home because it makes the house smell good and it is a comfort.

C is for cat. We’re at home more and our cats have strong opinions about that. C is also for conspiracy theories. See A.

D is for  dogs who are ALL glad we’re home all of the time.

E is for the elephants who hide in our backyards and closets and sometimes right in the middle of a room.

F is for friends we haven’t seen in person in a long long long time.

G is for grandstanding. See A. G is also for gardening. I’ve always had a garden of some sorts. Even my kids have porch gardens in their apartments. I’m happy to see so many people are growing their own gardens now or starting community gardens. That is a good thing. G is for good.

H is for hate. No need to explain. Figure it out. Don’t hate. It will eat you faster than any demon or any virus or any great white shark.

I is for ignorance. Too many people are embracing ignorance when they should be embracing their children and their cats and other things that really matter.

J is for joy. Find joy even if you’re home alone. Joy is found in small things in small amounts. It ads up.

K is for kids who can’t go to school because so many people (see A) wouldn’t wear masks or take this thing seriously in the beginning. Wearing a mask isn’t political. It isn’t about rights. It is about being a sane human with half a brain.

L is for love. It is also for checking in on those we love who need extra help or extra encouragement.

M is for my friend Mandy White who has some wonderful stories featured in the new book Goin Extinct Too. 

N is for nothing. We’re all doing a lot of nothing these days. It is also for Netflix. We are all watching a lot of stuff on Netflix.

O is for OVER IT. We are all over famous people telling us how good they look in their swimsuits and yoga pants during the pandemic lock down. We’re tired of hearing about their relationships, their vaginas, their woes. Shut the fuck up. We’re OVER it.

P is for pandemic. P is for painting too. We painted the inside of our house. Now I’m painting some POP ART. Seriously, I’m doing some pop art projects. I might show some photos later.

Q is for quiet.

R is for rest.

S is for sanity. S is also for hands sanitizer. Mostly it is for sanity. S is also for sense of humor. You must keep a sense of humor.

T is for together. We are all in this together. If you don’t agree see A.

U is for unusual. These are unusual times.

V is for Vampire. We are doing very well thank you.

W is for Werewolves. They’re doing ok. Summer is a difficult time because of the heat and all of that fur.

X is for Xanadu a horrible awful movie you get to see after you’ve seen everything else on Netflix, Prime, YouTube and every other cable network and streaming service. Make sure you have strong cocktails and maybe some a joint first.

Y is for YOU. Not for U but You. You’re going to be OK.  You have value. You are loved.

Z is for Zallia. I know a lovely 90 year old woman named Zallia. It is also for Zebra. Everyone loves these distant striped relatives to horses. Z is also for ZOOM.

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I wrote this little list in about fifteen minutes on a borrowed tablet. We make due when we have to. In fact we’re all making due right now but that is ok. We’re good at it. 

Now I’m going to work on ART. Yes, A is also for art.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

batmanandrobin

 

Unsavory Elements: Lockdown Edition

I’m in California. I know you already knew that. We’re on lockdown again. This is all so exceptionally weird.

Don’t even think for one moment this isn’t a boon for the paranormal community, and I’m not just talking Vampires. I’m thinking about the more unsavory elements of the world most people can’t or won’t see.

It seems that many of the Changlings switched by Goblins 40-70 years ago have started speaking up and started loudly spreading hate and conspiracy theories about Covid-19. They’re saying it is just a normal cold or flu, or that it doesn’t exist at all. They’re saying that they’ll die if they have to wear a mask. They’re being the adult Goblins in the guise of humans.

Most Ghosts are just lurking around as always in hope that too many new Ghosts won’t come of of this situation. There is a fine balance in the world of spirits. The Ghosts would rather just keep the status quo.

The Demons are lurking around Washington D.C. and in the state capitols seeing who has a soul to sell, or who is looking to buy. They’re vile nasty creatures in their own skin, but they can transform themselves to whatever seductive form is necessary for them to get their target. Demons know how to stroke egos, built up anger in the heart of any man, or fill a soul with unreasonable blind hate. Then again there are those who seek out Demons to help with their perverse fetishes and dreams of power. Many of them can be found in mega-churches, political rallies, and other places where there are so many sheep are ripe for the slaughter.

Of course there are always the soulless Shadow Creeping Vampires who are but husks of the people they once were, putting on their best behavior to take advantage of fear and loneliness.

So beware of things that go bump in the night, but most of all be afraid of things that don’t bump.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Not Going Anywhere

The conversation was always the same, no matter who I talked to.

I’m not going anywhere.

I wasn’t going anywhere either. For one thing it was too hot. 102°F. I’d done all of my gardening. My husband was up working on something in his office. Maybe he was looking up Air BNB sites but I don’t know. It isn’t like we could really go anywhere. Even in Lassen Volcanic National Park the place we usually rent was unavailable this year. Besides that there are warnings about otter attacks.

With the advent of the heat even the Neighborhood sites where people complain about the homeless camps by the parks, lost pets, and reports of gunfire and illegal fireworks were uncommonly quiet. There wasn’t much today except someone looking for a handyman, and someone else wanting to know if anyone could recommend a new pizza place.

I was sitting at my breakfast nook table reading when I smelled something vile. We’d had problems with skunks this summer. The dog had been sprayed twice after we’d taken her out in the yard to pee, resulting in late night washings in the side yard. But skunks usually don’t come out at three in the afternoon.

I looked out the window into my yard. There they were in the garden stealing my tomatoes. One was picking through the squash plants. Damn it. I’d yelled at them before to keep out of my yard.

After slipping on my sandals I went out back.

“Hey, if you want tomatoes you’re going to have to work for it. You’re going to have to grow your own fucking garden.” I was harsh and swore but there is no being nice with these guys. “You see those tools over there,” I said. “Pick out some shovels and start digging.”

They stood watching me with the eyes of the stoned. I know for a fact they go up to National Forest and State Park land and steal pot plants from illegal growers.

“I’ll be right back,” I said. “Start digging and earn your keep or I’ll call the local news station and maybe the police. I know you don’t want that kind of attention.”

They looked sad and picked up the shovels. I went went inside and came back out with a big Costco sized bottle of shampoo, a big bottle of conditioner, a couple bars of oatmeal soap, and some old brushes and combs I’d found under the sink in the bathroom.

“Before you do anything you need to clean up. I’m going to choke if I have to smell your years of stench. How can you live with yourselves?” I yelled at them.

They picked up the hose and started to clean up.

After about thirty minutes I went back outside. They were drying off and most of the smell was gone.

One of them grumbled something about the local food bank.

“You can’t go to the food bank,” I told them. “They’d have you locked up. Keep digging. I’ll make you some sandwiches and heat up some tamales for you.”

Back before Covid-19 I only had to deal with deer, or maybe wild turkeys. This year nobody was going anywhere, including the tribe of Big Foots who’d camped out in my back yard.

I knew things were going to be strange this summer, but hey it could be worse. You know, it could be worse.

~ end

 

 

Tangled Tales

 

Questions to ask as a writer in 2020: What about everything that is going on now? Will it change my story?

1918 nurses with dog and masks
1918 Nurses and their dog wearing masks.

These are strange times, as if you didn’t already know.

I’m working on a project. It is fiction. I have questions. My story/book/novel takes place in contemporary America, in California, with somewhat regular people. This isn’t an epic fantasy. I have questions and I can’t just make up the answers.

Writing Questions as of July 6, 2020:

How long will we be wearing masks?

How long will seniors be in danger?

Will there be relaspes of Covid-19? What will happen if that happens?

What about other diseases?

Who will win the election in November and what fall out will there be from that? No matter what happens it will be weird.

Will Melania Trump divorce her husband and go after my main character? She isn’t his type, but he is awfully attractive so she just might have to stalk him. Damn, that would make a weird story. You know I just put this one in for shits and grins.

Will we ever be able to go to live baseball games again?

Will people still be social distancing in 2025?

Will this become (heaven forbid I use this term) the new normal?

Will any of my character be survivors, or carriers, or know someone who have been sick from Covid-19 or died from it?

Should any of this matter?

What about younger characters who are in high school, college, or trade schools? What about kids wanting to join the military? What will happen when everyone starts going back to school?

Will working at home become more of the rule rather than the exception?

What else is going to happen? Aliens? Giant atomic reptiles? Natural disasters we can’t handle because our government is so fucked up? More strange illnesses? Doomsday cults gone amuck? Talking dogs? Big Foot comes out of the woods to help out? The possibilities are endless.

What about fire season? With prison lock downs are there going to be enough crews to work the fires? How will this impact my character’s lives, not to mention mine?

How will this impact relationships? I’m talking about marriages, parents and children, romantic partners, friends, relatives, siblings, work relationships, friends with benefits, and everyone else.

What about divorced parents who have children together, even if those children are grown? In my story they’re grown.

Did this impact your character’s jobs/careers?

What about the crazy election and politics? Did any of that impact your characters? Did it drive anyone apart?

How about diversity? Are you changing anything in your writing to reflect that? My own kids have a diverse group of friends of all colors, ethnic backgrounds, and sexual orientations. They are who they are. Do I need to mention details? One character is gender fluid but so are people I know in real life. How does one write about diversity without being overly contrived or stupid. I’ve done it on my blog, right here, in the past. It worked. Maybe I’m over thinking this.

When I used to work in advertising someone, usually a marketing director, always wanted to have a black male, a racially ambiguous lighter skinned brown (who could pass for white if he had to) male person, and an Asian female (because you could get a minority and a female for a two in one deal) in the ad. It was so trite. It was so false and just pissed me off.

Did your characters participate in demonstrations?

What are their political views? Have those views changed? How are they talking to their children about it? Do they agree with their kids, or can they even talk to them about it without yelling?

I am still sure I can and will call out racists, sexist assholes, anti-vaxxers, religious fanatics, those who don’t believe in science, flat Earthers, and people who like the books 50 Shades of Gray, The Twilight Series, and Bridges of Madison County. OK maybe not the readers. At least they read.

What about the environment? Again, what about the environment? WHAT ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT?

Will J.K. Rolling ever shut up about trans people?

Will there still be cat memes?

What about music?

Netflix? You know.

Did your character stop smoking and get into shape, or did they gain the Covid 19?

What or who did they miss most? What were they glad to get back to the most? What or who were they glad NOT to be around during the stay-at-home orders?

Does everyone adopt more shelter animals? I’m at overload at my house but maybe my characters adopt a few dogs, cats, or other critters during the shut downs.

These questions go on and on.

From my own experience I know as a writer that some stories become outdated pretty quickly. When my kids were tiny I started writing an epic techno/fantasy/romance/adventure that is over 200,000 words. The point of telling you this is that I need to go back and change a few things in it, because things have changed over the past twenty years. Attitudes have changed, and even though the story is fantasy and in a place that isn’t really our Earth, some things still apply. The entire Southern Hemisphere of their planet is a toxic wasteland due to environment disasters. There are social issues dealing with people who are different. There are assholes and bigots. There is drug use. But anyway, it is still a damn fine story and after a few more years maybe I’ll edit it and throw it out to the wolves.

But I’m rambling…

As writers we must constantly be thinking about how our world changes. That is the beauty of blogging, that is you write constantly in smaller bites so everything is always fresh.

So, I have nothing else to say on this right now. I just need to get back to my book. Oh, and don’t forget that Camp NaNoWriMo 2020 is happening right now if you want to join in. Here is the link to get there: https://nanowrimo.org/what-is-camp-nanowrimo

Damn I feel bad for all of the kids who have to miss summer camp this year.

I’ll yack at you more later and bug Vlad for a new Vampire Diary post.

  • Wear your mask
  • Be nice
  • Wash your hands
  • Read blogs
  • Eat your fruits and vegetables
  • Love your cats
  • Do some stretching
  • Don’t be a dick
  • Turn up the radio in your car and sing really loud
  • Stay safe
  • Kiss a Vampire (that is still relatively safe and always fun)

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

family and cat with masks 1918
1918. Family with masks – even the cat.

Pandemic Superhero Zoom – or – Put it OVER Your Nose and Mouth

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“Oh my gosh, Betty, I haven’t seen you in like forever. Not since we went wine tasting. What was that a month after my wedding?”

He looked at the first square to pop up on his Zoom meeting.

“That was it. Six cases of wine and now thanks to the pandemic we’re down to one. Jimmy, you look great. How are you?”

“Good all things considering. Robin is doing better than I expected. He’s changing careers.” A few more boxes popped up.

Mera, Betty, Mary Jane, Vicki, Iris. It was a good showing. They all greeted each other. Only Vicki and Lois were wearing makeup. Everyone looked pretty casual. Betty and Mera were wearing glasses instead of their usual colored contacts.

Jimmy: Vicki, it’s been forever since we’ve seen you? So you’re staying with Bruce I hear.”

Vicki: He asked me. HE asked me if I’d ride out the pandemic with him at his place. I thought it would be fun. That was in March. Four months later I’m ready to head home.”

Betty: Oh honey, I’m surprised he never asked you to marry him. That man needs a wife.”

Vicki: I might as well be his wife. I have to take care of everything for him. And don’t even get me started on Albert. He should have retired years ago. The poor old guy can hardly get his pants on by himself. I’m up all hours of the night. I keep a baby monitor by the bed in case he falls.

Jimmy: Oh man, I’m sorry to hear that. Robin didn’t say anything to me about it.

Vicki: Bruce is driving me crazy. He always has that fucking light on, you know the one with the wings. I tell him to turn it off, so he turns it off, then as soon as I as I go to do something else he has it on again. He isn’t the one who pays the electricity bill. Those big lights cost a fortune to light up the night sky with. Then everyone down below is wondering what the hell is going on. I tell him that but he won’t listen. He just sits up there on the roof all by himself muttering under his breath like some crazy guy hearing voices or something. And don’t even get me started on the mask thing. I keep telling him that it needs to completely cover his nose AND mouth. But does he do it?

All of the women nodded and muttered in agreement.

Lois: I know what you mean. When he’s just Clark and going down to Lowe’s for something or to the grocery story he wears a mask. When he has to go out flying he refuses. That asshole told me that he won’t catch Covid-19. I told him fine, but he could sure as hell carry it and give it to someone else.

Iris: Tell me about it. My man might be faster than anything known to man but when it comes to getting ideas through his thick skull he is slow as three toed sloth.

Mary Jane: My heart goes out to you ladies. Peter never had problems with masks. He love them. He decorated a bunch with spider web designs.

Lois: Peter is so adorable. You’re lucky to have such a sweetie.

Vicki: She is. Oh my God I am so fed up with the brooding. If the sex wasn’t so great…

Jimmy: Let’s keep it clean ladies. TMI.

Vicki: Sorry. I didn’t mean to vent.

Mera: You’re in a safe space Vicki. We’re here for you.

Vicki: Enough about me. How are you doing?

Mera: OK I guess. I miss everyone. We’re staying in the old light house. Here I’ll show you the view. It is spectacular.

Mera picked up her computer and turned the screen towards the ocean. The others could see dolphins dancing and gray whaled leaping into the air.

Lois: Wow Mera, I want to come stay with you.

Mera: Are you working from home?

Lois: Sure am but Clark thinks I’m some old fashioned house wife. The other day he told me all of his tights had holes in them. He expected me to fix them, or else order him some new ones. I told him the only place I could get tights these days in his size was the cross dresser drag queen sites. He got all pissed off at me. I told him to stop being a homophobic turd. I mean, he isn’t homophobic, you know that Jimmy, but sometimes he is so old fashioned it just drives me nuts.

Jimmy: So did you get him some tights?

Lois: Hell no. I told him to REI and get something practical to wear. He can still fly and be Superman without the silly costume. He can wear some climbing gear or bike shorts.

Betty: I think staying at home away from everything has been good for my Bruce. I don’t have the issue with tights, but he sure goes through pants fast when he Hulks up. He hasn’t lost his tempter or stressed out once in the past three months. I can’t even put into words how wonderful that is.

Jimmy: Well, I have news. Robin is changing careers.

All of the women perked up and asked in unison what was going on.

Jimmy: He got into a graduate program at University of California Davis. He’ll be studying ornithology, you know the study of birds. He’ll be Dr. Robin Grayson when he is done.

The ladies all sent their congratulations. For the next hour they talked in their tiny boxes about staying at home with their unique men. Occasionally a dog, a cat, or a child, an elderly relative would wander in and say hello.

When it was all done Jimmy Olson turned off his laptop and when into the kitchen where his husband Robin was fixing dinner.

Jimmy: Did I tell you how much I love you.

Robin: Every day. I love you to. It’s good to feel appreciated.

  1. Stay home
  2. Wear you mask over your nose and mouth
  3. Don’t think you can’t get this thing
  4. Wash your hands
  5. Appreciate those you’re stuck at home with. We’re all doing the best we can.
  6. Most of all don’t forget the real Superheroes during this pandemic.

 

Superheroes

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Captain Sandy and the Airship at the End of the World

Captain Sandy and the Airship at the End of the World

(Published as author Marla Todd)

The end of the world had come and gone a long time ago. Of course I wouldn’t dare remind Captain Sandy of that extraordinary fact. He stood in the basket of the airship, hands on the control, the tails of his jacket blowing in the wind.

When the end of the world came the evil and the damned were gathered up and taken down to Hell. The pure and righteous were led up to Heaven in a golden white light.

That left the artists and writers, along with a lot of musicians, wine makers, computer programmers and antiques dealers. Of course there were others, but nobody that lacked a certain amount of creative or innovative spirit. One must have spirit and imagination to survive when the world ends without you.

It worked for me. Well, at least most of the time.

I honestly have to say, the world had become way too serious. I adjusted my goggles and scarf as I looked down on the tire fire that had been burning for the past 100 years. Adjusting the leather hood on my cat, I took him out of his basket to take a look. My five year old son Aaron stood on his toes to get a look as I held tight to the back of his jacket. I must have been a sight, boy in one hand, cat in the other.

Life was an adventure to be savored and enjoyed. It was a destroyed world being built up by those of us with visions of beauty and wonder. Captain Sandy always said this was Heaven. Of course I never told him otherwise. It was Heaven to be in the arms of my husband at night and feel the touch of his skin on mine, that is until I’d run my hand over the deep scars on his back. I called him my fallen angel. He would just laugh and kiss me as only an angel could kiss. Maybe it was Heaven for him since he was now dead, but I will never know unless I die too and find him there.

Once when I was younger my brother and I found some old movies in where everyone at the end of the world were driving big trucks and dune buggies as they shot anyone they came across. There were zombies and crazy fucks of all sorts fighting for the last clean water. It seemed they had unlimited amounts of fuel and bullets. No word of steam, solar and silent airships.

My brother and I laughed at the stupidity of it all. That was not our world. Ours was a world to create without hesitation or critical review. Our poets were considered as important as our politicians. Our sense of style always outweighed our sense of practicality. At least we kept telling ourselves that – all of us did as we banded together trying to give off an air of hope and strength. We created our own world going back to a time that didn’t really exist, where all things were possible and the modern world was still a beautiful dream.

Captain Sandy asked me what I was thinking that could have me looking so serious.

I told him and he just shook his head.

“Life isn’t a theater play like you make it out to be my dear. There are dangerous things out in dark areas of stench and smoke that would enslave us and make us into meals if they could. You’ve been protected in your leather and velvet bustle dresses and fanciful thoughts. It’s a good thing to be ignorant of the world but it is dangerous in ways you can’t imagine.”

“Captain,” I said, “you forget that the shadows took my husband. I take flights of fancy so I won’t fall out of the sky and die of sorrow.”

He turned and gave me a quick smile. Despite the dark pattern of scars on the left side of his face the Captain was still a handsome man with a dazzling smile. All the women were quick to notice him.

“Why are you alone Captain?”

“I’m not.”

“No wife or children?”

“I had a wife. She vanished when the world ended. I never knew if she went up or down or just vanished to dust. Who knows. The bitch could still be around somewhere.”

“So you’re alone,” I said.

“Just free of my wife.” He said nothing else then took off his hat and tied his long prematurely silver hair back with a ribbon he’d pulled from his coat pocket. “So, did you like movies back in the time before?”

I nodded. Of course I liked movies. Most of them were gone now. Rare stashes of films could be found and if we were lucky we’d find something to play them on.

Captain Sandy smiled a rare smile at me. “Sometimes I’m floating along above this all, all of this and I start thinking about Blade Runner and then my mind goes to Casablanca or off to Princess Bride then to In the Heat of the Night. I can run them all in my head, every line, every scene, every music score.”

I told him I did the same. We tend not to talk a lot about the time before the end of the world, but occasionally it comes out. We can’t deny our past. We just can’t help it.

“What did you do before, you know, the end of the world?” I asked the Captain point blank.

“I was a high school physics teacher. Physics and engineering to be exact. What did you do?”

“I produced reality TV shows. The last one was for MTV. Did you ever see Love Bytes?”

He laughed. “That was you? All of my students watched that show. Geeks and romance. A lot of them wanted to be on the show.”

The sky gradually started to turn dark. In the distance we could see lightning strike and the silhouettes of other airships.

I hugged my child and put a blanket around his shoulders. Aaron put his head on my lap and fell asleep. Captain Sandy sang softly a song that we both knew so long ago.

It seemed we’d been here for centuries, only the children aging and growing up.

As a rule we didn’t speak much of what we missed or how much. It was always there in the back of our minds. I missed skinny jeans and sweaters. I missed short tight dresses and yoga at the gym. I missed the music. I missed my friends and family. I missed my job. I even missed the orange trees in my back yard and the sound of the garbage truck at 6:45 am on Thursday mornings. I missed it all.

Captain Sandy turned suddenly and looked at me as if he could read my mind. “Don’t think of how things used to be. Don’t think of why we’re here.”

We both knew why we were here. Nobody wanted us. There was no place for us in Heaven but nobody in Hell wanted us either.

“You’ve got to admit,” the Captain continued, “we’re in a unique position. No matter how bad it looks, this is our world. I spent 18 years teaching kids to understand the building blocks of the universe. I thought I was contributing to the future of our young people so that they would make the world a better place.”

“Now it doesn’t matter,” I said in a rare show of depression over the events that brought us here.

“No. Now it matters more than ever. This is our world. Despite the shadows and ghouls, this is our world now, free and clear. We can still use the building blocks of science and art to make it the place we want it to be. Finally we can do it right.”

“You’re always such an optimist Captain Sandy but do you really believe that?”

“Of course I do. What other choice do I have?”

“You have a point,” I said, noticing the spark in his eyes.

He noticed that I’d noticed. “Look at this as the ultimate reality TV show.”

“If that is the case then who, Captain Sandy, gets the hot girl at the end?”

He smiled. “That depends on you.” Then he turned his face away from me to where I could only see the moon lit reflection of the scars that traced his jawline.

The crew of the airship came up on deck to view the stars and take in the night air. It was good to see them laugh and talk freely of the destination ahead. My son raised his sleepy head and laughed too. Maybe it wasn’t that bad after all. Maybe Captain Sandy would win the game and get the girl. I had a pretty good feeling he would.

~ End

Tangled Tales

This story was featured in the WPaD Anthology: Goin’ Extinct – Tales from the Edge of Oblivion. Available on Amazon B&N and with other fine online book sellers.  

goin-extinct-front-cover1

Available in paperback and electronic ebook versions on Amazon, Good Reads, Barnes and Noble and other fine online booksellers.

WPaD is the acronym for Writers, Poets and Deviants. We are a diverse group of writers who came together on the Internet to support and encourage each other.Our collaborative works are charity fundraisers, with a percentage of royalties being donated to Multiple Sclerosis in support of members of our group who live with MS.

Books by WPaD:

  • Nocturnal Desires: Erotic Tales for the Sensual Soul
  • Creepies: Twisted Tales From Beneath the Bed
  • Passion’s Prisms: Tales of Love and Romance
  • Dragons and Dreams: A Fantasy Anthology
  • Tinsel Tales: A Holiday Treasury
  • Silk She Is: Poetry of Daniel E. Tanzo
  • Goin’ Extinct: Tales From the Edge of Oblivion
  • Creepies 2: Things That Go Bump in the Closet
  • Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe (Science Fiction)
  • WPaD Weird Tales
  • Creepies 3
  • Tinsel Tales 2
  • Goin’ Extinct Too: Apocalypse A Go-Go

WPaD books are available worldwide in paperback and ebook editions.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman