Juliette’s Book Club: Tales From the Edge of Oblivion

summerreading

While you’re on lock down at home you might just need some fun new reading material. Consider the themed anthologies from WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants.) The books are fun, cover a wide range of genres, and include some of my stories too.

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.

Below is one of the stories from Goin Extinct: Tales from the Edge of Oblivion. At the end of the story is more information about WPaD and all of our books.

 

red heart

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.

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. Proceeds of all WPaD go to MS Research.

Coming Soon...

Who can come up with a dozen different ways to end the world? We can!
This apocalyptic collection of short stories explores numerous ways in which life as we know it could end. From the traditional nuclear apocalypse to cosmic events, zombies, mysterious alien substances, evil corporations and even… coffee. These stories will shock, entertain and tug at your heart strings. For your post-apocalyptic reading list, ‘Goin’ Extinct’ is a must-have.

Including stories and poetry from: Mandy White (Author), David W. Stone (Author), Diana Garcia (Author), Marla Todd (Author), Nathan Tackett (Author), J. Harrison Kemp (Author), David Hunter (Author), Michael Haberfelner (Author), Jade M. Phillips (Author), Gina McKnight (Author), Mike Cooley (Author), , Chris Da Cruz (Author), S.E. Springle (Author)

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 – Holiday Hootinanny

WPaD books are available worldwide in paperback and ebook editions.

 

Add Goin’ Extinct to your summer reading list today. You’ll thank me for it later. Also check out the other books from the WPaD group.

WPAD SciFi

Weirder Tales

Weirder Tales – Now Available on Amazon and other fine online bookstores. Proceeds to to MS Research.

wpad poster

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LT240EA/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_t2_LfZjybD530NJK

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Old Bones

From Dr. Shawna Green
February, 2020
Wales

Many believe Neanderthals believed in a spiritual world. Their graves are found with pollen, which is seen as proof of flowers put in with the buried dead.

In Wales, while on a dig for a 5th Century princess, we found a cave containing an unprecedented burial of five Neanderthal skeletons and three smaller Homo sapiens.

Not only was there pollen, but we also found shells, assorted stones arranged in spiral patterns, and stone tools.

My colleague Dr. Henry Evans carefully pulled out a small bit that looked like metal.

“That is an early Totenkopf skull and bones pin,” said Henry.

“The Nazis weren’t here.” I said. “Or were they?”

“This dirt hasn’t been moved for at least 50,000 years.”

I examined the smaller skulls.

“Henry, two of the skulls have dental work. It looks fairy modern.”

“20th Century. Looks like pre-1950,” said Henry.

“I don’t understand.”

“Shawna, please keep quiet on this for a while until we have these analyzed.”

The bones were around 49,000 years old. All of the bones. The Neanderthal group consisted of three males and two females. Their smaller friends were also a mixed group of two male and one female. All were eight adults.

Then we did DNA analysis.

The man was an SS officer named Franz Meyer.  He vanished in 1937.

The other two came back as Fred Noonan and Amelia Earhart. They had a also vanished in 1937. Even more surprising was that their bones, along with Meyer’s carbon dated to 49,000 years give or take a few.

Henry shared more startling findings with me. “There were rumors that Meyer had been working on time travel technology. I always thought Meyer’s work was part of Hitler’s spiritualism and insane technological obsessions. When Meyer vanished so did all of his notes. Some assumed he died when his lab burned down. Shawna, this is huge.”

“But how did they all get at the same place. Earhart and Noonan went down in the South Pacific. Meyer was last seen in German.”

“I don’t know.”

“Now what?”

“I don’t know Shawna. I just don’t know.”

“This is big Henry.”

“I know.”

“Can you imagine flying your plane across the Pacific Ocean then finding yourself in the Ice Ages?”

“How horrifying,” said Henry.

“They were buried with respect.”

Henry looked at me with large blue eyes, then a tear rolled down his face.

For a moment I thought of a bit of trivia.

“Henry, I’ve heard there is a possibility that everyone with blue, or blueish eyes has a bit of Neanderthal in them.”

Henry wiped his eyes. “Neanderthals made rope too. Meyer had traces of hemp at his neck.”

“He wasn’t a nice person.” I said, suddenly feeling the weight of it all on my shoulders.

“Well, let’s give it a rest. We’ll make a plan tomorrow.”

“Yes, we can regroup in the morning,” I said, imagining a blue eyed man swinging by a tree with rope made by his distant ancestors.

~ end

Tangled Tales

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Short Story Sunday Romance Marathon: First Sight

First Sight

 

Northern England   1323 AD

It started to rain, a few drops at first then sheets of freezing water almost horizontal across the sky. That’s all Aleyn needed, to be not only cold but wet as well. To add to the nasty weather and bad mood, he was late. The wind whipped his long wet hair around and slapped him in the face. He swore and quickly tied it back.

Predawn morning was too early and too cold to be up for any woman, no matter how beautiful or persuasive or helpless she was. Then again, this wasn’t just any woman. It was his best friend’s sister. He still wondered how let himself be recruited to bring her to the gathering. “Oh right. I was available.” He thought in disgust. “That’s the story of my life. Ask Aleyn, he’s always available. Like I don’t have anything better to do than travel in the dead of winter to find a woman who doesn’t need my help.”

Despite years of living like a warrior, he still had to fight off the desire to be passive, both physically and emotionally. He’d heard that this woman, Nathaira, was passive to the point of being dangerous. “Wonderful, a match made in heaven. On the up side, maybe she won’t be as demanding and hard headed as the rest of her family.”

As much as he disliked it, Aleyn had a talent for the down and dirty raw violence of physical combat. He’d mastered every weapon he could, learning strategy and cunning. With his tall muscular build, broad shoulders, wild dark hair and piercing ice blue eyes, he made a striking figure. His true gift was his voice; the kind of voice that made people listen, the voice of a leader. Too bad he didn’t have anything to say.

His men followed him on their horses across the fields to the castle of Dexter of Blackwoods. Five men, hand picked for their bravery and steady temperament. All were smart, true and loyal. They were his guards, and in turn he was their teacher. He loved his men and their families with a fierce protective passion. They knew he was different, but they never questioned why. Nobody ever questioned anything in this place. It drove him crazy.

Aleyn’s thoughts wandered back to the gathering he would escort Lady Nathaira to. For the first time, more than 40 of his clan were gathering together. The letter he’d received stated that finally they would be organizing and banding together for solidarity and support. “Support my ass. We’re nothing but outcasts and no amount of support will change that.” he thought. They were stranded to live among a population so different from themselves and there was nothing he or any of his kind could do to change the fact.

This was a place where people still believed their world was the center of the universe. The unknown was to be feared, rather than embraced for the possibilities.

Every time he thought about his situation he could feel the scars on his back and shoulders pull. He had tried to block out his memories of his former self. Home, family, community, his entire world were now dead to him. He’d made a new life in this primitive place. Hope for this world and its people drew him away from his own home and trapped him forever in exile.

Rubbing his temple to fight off a brain splitting headache, he almost lost his balance. “I’ll never get used to this body of mine.” he thought.

His man Garth turned to him with a grim look of concern. I’m fine Aleyn silently mouthed.

Years earlier, Garth had guessed what Aleyn really was. In turn, Aleyn never acknowledged it. If he did he’d risk death for himself and everyone he now loved. Despite the problems and frustrations, he’d made a place for himself and found a small measure of happiness.

As a beloved spiritual teacher and healer, the woman Nathaira had also found a place for herself, practically alone, without her family or a husband to protect her. Everything about her had pointed to failure, but she never failed. In fact, she thrived. Nathaira was the only one in this region of the world, aside from himself, who could teach real hope to these miserable people.

As Aleyn and his men approached the great hall of Lord Dexter’s castle they could hear screaming and the wailing of women. ”Can’t these people ever just shut up?” Aleyn said aloud to himself.

The stone structure was cold and damp.

Not only are they stupid in there, but they have no concept of comfort, Aleyn thought. Knowledge of the great ages of the past had eluded them. In was one more in a long list of frustrating items he didn’t need to think about, but couldn’t get out of his head.

One of his men pounded on the main door. It was slowly opened by a scruffy, timid man wearing ill-fitting dirt colored tunic, obviously a servant. Maybe not. You never could be sure with these people.

“Is your master within?”

The man started to shake. His voice was nothing but an animal like whimper. It sounded like he was saying no, but it could have been anything.

Aleyn pushed his way through. “I am here for Lady Nathaira. Let me pass.”

He scanned the hall. Half a dozen women huddled on benches in the corner, with as many children clinging to their skirts. A few scruffy looking boys of around 8 or 9 stood by the fire, now staring with fascination at the six well dressed, well armed knights and their leader.

Some sort of massacre had taken place. Benches were overturned. Broken pottery lay where it had fallen. Shards of fabric, what looked to have been sumptuous clothing were thrown across the hall. Clumps of long brown hair, still partially braided scattered the floor. A gold necklace with green stones lay twisted and broken. He put his finger to something splattered on the floor. Blood.

He called to his men to check the hall and doorways. They found two badly injured men in the hallway. Long gashes covered their arms and torsos. Aleyn put his hands on their necks looking for a pulse. They’d obviously been taken down by the lord of the castle, trying to protect themselves and perhaps someone else.

“May the healing powers of our Lord be with you,” he muttered. Then turning to a weeping woman he barked out orders, “Get these men by the fire. Warm them up and dress their wounds. Don’t stand there gawking like a frog. Do it.”

The woman ran off for help. These people had been reduced to being perpetual children through fear. In disgust he continued his search for Nathaira, fearing it would be in vain.

A frightened looking, sumptuously dressed woman approached him. “The lord of the house took her last night. He says she’s a witch. He says she cast a spell on him.”

“What do you say about it?” he asked. “Well? Tell me?”

“When he invited her here he expected a crone. She showed up looking like a waiting bride. A virginal beauty with glittering eyes of want.”

“Shut up now.” A second woman, unusually beautiful with long blond braids, slipped next to him and grabbed his arm. “My Lord, Lady Nathaira is a saint. Do not blame her or judge her for what my brother has done. Come, I will provide you with comfort, then…”

Aleyn lost all patience. “Where is Lady Nathaira?”

“There is no helping her. She is damned with no hope of ever being in the light again.”

Why didn’t these people ever just come out and say the truth. Everything was a riddle to him.

“I don’t have time for this madam.” Then again, time meant nothing to them as well.

“Come, let me make you comfortable my lord. I can please you until my brother, the master of this castle returns.”

He took her by the shoulders and looked into her eyes. They were almost empty. Her soul was almost gone. Like with so many others it had atrophied into the darkness of her mind. It was a way to survive as comfortably as possible and damn the consequences.

“Come out of your darkness madam. I command you to do so.”

She looked at his face in shock, tears in her eyes. “Up there.” She whispered, backing away from him and pointing to the stairs. “My brother is here, in the chapel…but not himself,” she trailed off in tears.

Aleyn went up a dark stair well into a tower. At the top of the stairs a door was bolted from the outside.

Aleyn unbolted the door. Where are the men she was traveling with? Where is her serving lady? He motioned his men to stay back. Drawing his dagger he walked into the freezing room.

“Put the weapon away. I won’t hurt you,” a quiet, but slightly annoyed voice said from the other end of the chamber. The diffused morning light came through the long crack of a window and illuminated the speaker in a weird perverse halo.

He closed the door behind him. His heart sank as he walked closer to the woman on a wide bench bench. She sat alone, a clutching a rough blanket over her knees to her chest. Her brown hair was a short uneven mess, chopped off at her jaw line. The left side of her face was covered with a mass of ugly bruises and scrapes. Rope burns were on her wrists. Her nose had been bleeding and was now crusted with blood. Her eyes had started to blacken and swell. He knew by ugly scars down her back, scars matching his own, that she was the one he had been looking for.

“Nathaira?”

Her pale blue eyes looked up in calm greeting. “You must be Aleyn. So glad you could finally make it, she said calmly with an ever so slight touch of sarcasm in her voice. She held out her hand palm up. He gently touched the tips of his fingers with hers, in the custom of their kind, then took her hand and gently kissed it. She closed her eyes and gave his hand a squeeze before letting go.

Aleyn sat next to her and carefully touched the burses on her face.

“How bad are your injuries?” he asked as she winced and turned away.

She pulled the blanket around her shoulders and swung her bare feet over the edge of the bed. “I’m fine. Let’s get out of here.”

The lady wasn’t fine. He noticed more black and blue marks on her arms. “Nobody taught you how to fight did they?”

Nathaira took a deep breath. “It is not in my nature to fight.”

“It’s not in my nature either, but I’ve forced myself to do it. You have to fight if you want to survive.”

“Fine, next time I’ll make sure I kill someone,” she snapped back.

“Tell me what happened here,” he took her icy hands and held them between his in an attempt to calm her down. It seemed to work. She leaned a little into him trying to keep warm. He could feel her starting to shiver from the cold.

She spoke calmly, with little emotion. “My first two days here were filled with fellowship and healing. I actually made these people smile and realize that maybe they didn’t have to live in fear. Then last night Dexter shows up ready for a fight. He locks up my people then comes after me. I tried, but I couldn’t get through to him. He has no interest in anything spiritual. If I didn’t know any better I’d swear the man has no soul.”

“Of course he has a soul. Don’t talk that way. Someone will hear you,” he whispered.

“Listen to yourself. You’re as bad as the locals. Nobody will hear me except you,” she scolded him, slightly raising her voice.

“I hope you’re right,” Aleyn answered quietly.

“I am right. Do you want to know what happened or not?”

“Of course, please continue.”

She was still shivering. Aleyn took off his own fur-lined cape and draped it around her, trying to warm her up. For a brief second, Nathaira attempted a weak smile in appreciation then continued. “Needless to say, Dexter only wanted my body. I told him he couldn’t have me. The next thing I knew he had knocked me to the ground and was shouting that I was a whore. Then the stupid ignorant bastard tied my wrists together and hacked off my hair. Son of a bitch almost broke my nose too. Slammed my face right into the floor. He and his brother took my clothes. Cut them right off of me in front of the entire household. Then he dragged me up here for a night of carnal pleasures.”

“He raped you,” Aleyn said quietly almost to himself. He felt sick.

“He didn’t rape me. He tried but I wouldn’t let him.”

“So you did fight.”

She took a deep breath and paused for a few seconds. “Sort of. I tried to talk him out of it, but he wouldn’t listen. I asked him if he believed in hell. He told me to shut up and spread my legs. By then I’d had enough of his abuse, so I put a vision of hell in his mind he’ll never forget. By the time he got to the chapel he’d shit his own pants.”

Aleyn couldn’t believe what she’d told him. “You gave him a vision of hell?”

She rolled her eyes at him in disgust. “Yes. Do you need me to spell it out? You can spell can’t you? I’d be surprised if you could, considering most of the population around here is completely illiterate. They can’t even…”

He gently put a finger to her lips. “Nathaira, please. You’re a healer, you’re not supposed to do things like that.”

She pulled his hand away from her face. “He was going to force me to…he was going to…” she turned her head away in disgust.

He spoke calmly and quietly in hopes of quieting her down. “You know it’s against the rules, to put visions of fear in the hearts of men.”

“Against the rules? Excuse me, Mister tall dark and handsome, sent here to rescue my ass about twelve hours too late, since when have we had rules?”

Tall dark and handsome? Rescue my ass? What a mouth. She really is just like her brother. You could beat the last breath out of him and he’d still get in the last word. He could be drowning and he’d still throw out a sarcastic remark.

“There are rules to ensure our survival.” He told her, firmly, trying to sound in charge.

She gave him the you-clueless-asshole-look that he knew so well from her siblings, then wiped her nose on the blanket. “That little visit-to-hell trick ensured my survival.” She glared at him then looked him up and down. “Would you rather have come here to find that he had raped and killed me? Imagine how my brothers would have reacted to that.”

“I can’t…” he stammered.

She cut him off, “Listen, I don’t have the strong persuasive powers that the rest of my family has. The only real gifts I still have are the ability to comfort and heal. Comfort and healing aren’t going to protect me against a predator like Dexter.” She ran her hand through her hair. “Can you believe this mess? It will take me years to get it half-way normal looking again. Damn that ugly piece of shit and his stupid ass brother. I was supposed to be safe here.” Her voice cracked but she didn’t cry. She took a deep breath and paused, fighting back the tears. “Be glad I didn’t kill Dexter. Believe me, I wanted to.”

He shrugged. He couldn’t begrudge her for feeling the way she did.

Aleyn found clothes for her. A soft under dress and a long over dress of green with ivory colored embroidery. Long sleeves almost reached the ground. Out of her bag she pulled a long embroidered scarf to cover her hair. He helped her get dressed. She didn’t seem to care if he saw her naked or touched her while he helped. He noticed burses on her sides and legs. Every movement gave her pain but she never complained. She took jeweled bracelets from her bag and used them to carefully secure the sleeves at her wrists, then slipped a few silver rings on her fingers. Her fingernails looked ragged and recently broken, Aleyn assumed from the confrontation with Dexter.

Nathaira wasn’t young or breathtakingly beautiful, but she was still an attractive woman with the delicate prettiness of a young girl still in her face. Despite the current bruising and swelling, her skin was smooth and unblemished aside for a generous dusting of freckles. Her figure was sensuous and inviting. Given another time and place it would have given him pleasure to gaze upon her. Today it just made him sad.

Taking her hand he steadied her with an arm around her waist. “Your brothers and Lord Mal will be furious.”

She snapped. “Screw my brothers and that asshole Mal. I’m tired of everyone telling everything I do is wrong.”

He was shocked by her language and defensiveness. “It’s not you they’ll be mad at. I was supposed to protect you. I was supposed to prevent this from happening.”

Nathaira started to cry, big heart breaking sobs. He put his arms around her and held her. He stroked her back and kissed the tears from her eyes.

“Cry it all out. I promise you, I’ll never let anyone hurt you again.” Every sob made his heart break She molded herself next to him. It felt so right, even in this God forsaken place.

He glanced up and saw his right hand man, Garth, in the doorway. He looked stoic but Aleyn knew Garth was glad to see his wifeless leader in the embrace of the woman.

“We found her maid servant and men. Let’s go,” Garth said, trying not to smile.

Aleyn gave a nod. He gently dried Nathaira’s tears and helped her up.

When they went back to great hall the transformation he saw next was no surprise. Gone was the injured, defensive woman he’d comforted. Small and battered she stood in the room, not as a fragile woman, but as an angel of hope, a healer of hopelessly broken hearts and bruised souls. The women gathered around Nathaira and touched her. She embraced them. A few men joined them. She spoke to them in a clear beautiful voice, in their own language. Her tone was calm but her words projected through the hall.

“Keep your faith not in fear and ignorance, but with hope and a pure open heart. Remember God’s love transcends the ignorant and selfish laws of men. Let that love bind your spirit together and keep you strong. Be healed by your faith and the love for your Lord and with your love for each other.” Her words were that of the true teacher. It was a message that had been long forgotten by the ignorant priests that preached fear and distrust.

Tears filled her eyes again as she embraced the women and touched the hands of the men. The morning light filled the chamber. Aleyn knew they could feel Nathaira’s warm healing powers. The children hugged her legs and she held their little faces in her hands and kissed them. She spoke quietly to each of them, giving them strength and comfort. Aleyn knew that they would never forget her, even the few who would survive to old age.

Draping her heavy wool cloak over her shoulders he led her outside to where his men were waiting with the horses. He noticed her eyes dart to their faces and weapons.

Nathaira glanced back at the castle. “These people were so spiritually drained. It broke my heart. They listen to the priest seven days a week telling them that they are wicked lost souls. They’re drawn to the violence and superstitions of biblical stories, not the messages of love and hope. There is no semblance of any grace or understanding in their lives. Ignorance and sheer stupidity rule the land. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand it at all. At least that ugly piece of shit Dexter won’t hurt them anymore. I wish I could do more, but you know how it is. “

He didn’t respond except for a slight shake of his head. Experience had showed him how it was, to be practically useless in a hopeless situation. He noticed how gentle her tone was with the people of the house. How different she was with him, one of her own kind.

She said as she hooked her arm in his as they walked, as if she’d known him for years.

He had to smile at her familiarity. “Nathaira, your name means snake doesn’t it?”

“Snakes are creatures of God, just like swans, hawks or horses. Each has a beauty and purity of it’s own that is lost on most people. Besides, I don’t see it as meaning snake, I see it as meaning that I’m flexible.”

He almost laughed out loud. She was a character. Lovely, charming, spirited, and completely obnoxious, all at the same time.

Aleyn tried to keep a serious tone. “It will take us another fortnight to get to the others. You’ll travel as my obedient and dutiful wife. It will be safer that way.”

She gave him a shy smile. “Do we get to sleep under the same blanket?”

He stopped walking and looked at her. “Excuse me?”

She mocked a serious look. “Don’t worry Aleyn, your virtue is safe with me.” Then she chuckled at herself, amused by her own joke.

Aleyn shook his head and smiled. They continued to walk in silence. Glancing over at Nathaira. He knew she was in pain, physically and mentally.

Noticing his look, she squeezed his arm. “Thanks again for coming. Oh, I forgot to tell you, Dexter’s stupid ass brother Niall and the local priest are planning on killing me tonight at sunset. They said it would be slow and painful.”

“Then I suggest we gather up your people and get out of here.”

She smiled and winked at him. “Lead the way, brave and true husband of mine.”

For the first time in years he was at a loss for words, especially with a woman. Aleyn knew then and there he was falling in love with his best friend’s sister and there was no turning back.

 

~ End

 

Note: They are not speaking OLDE ENGLISH because they aren’t OLDE ENGLISH. I’ve had some asshats point out how they talk. Also it is fiction. Also nobody wants to be an “e” on the end of every word.

Some of you might have read this before. I started this story in 2004. It is part of a much larger work in progress called “A Night at the Crest.” Click here for more.  “A Night at the Crest” is one of the better things I’ve written.

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday Romance Marathon: A Man Should Have What He Wants (a nasty little Vampire story)

A Man Should Have What He Wants

A Nasty Little Vampire Story from Juliette aka Vampire Maman  

A house full of books and the ghosts of what could have been.

What can be. Oliver Thomas thought as he sat on the edge of the bed.

He never let himself get close to those he visited over the years. It was easy to become detached just as one could be detached to an apple or a head of lettuce.

She slept quietly. On the nightstand were books, earrings, a clock set for 5:00 a.m., and her glasses. Her husband was snoring and slept in another room. Her children were tucked into their dreams. Oliver made sure of that. They’d all be asleep.

Oliver Thomas kept coming back to her. She was different, by her own accord. Amanda had always been different – the type who saw the world in visions and possibilities. Someone who overcame obstacles.  If she grew to be old she’d be a sweet eccentric with her window boxes full of exotic flowers and vast knowledge of the obscure and unusual.

She had a hard time making friends due to her shyness and reluctance to follow up. Her fear of rejection paralyzed her in some areas of her life. Most of life was paralyzing but she seemed to thrive and succeed.

Yet, the woman could light up a room with her wit and charm. She was a success despite her low opinion of herself.

But he’d fallen in love with her in a strange way that someone falls in love with an idea of perfection and the ideal person to share life’s adventures with.

Her teenage kids still hung all over her like toddlers, leaning on her even now. They were taller than she was, dressed in their black band shirts with trendy long hair and black painted nails.  Oliver had seen Amanda once, her son with his lanky arm around her shoulder, her daughter with an arm around her waist. How many women, he wondered, envied her for the closeness she had with her children.

If it wasn’t for her children she might have checked out and left the world a long time ago. Since childhood Amanda had been uncomfortable with life and the tremendous effort it took for her to live with herself and her failures.

Oliver saw that Amanda had failed to see her success, except with her children. He didn’t want to think of her marriage with Craig. It worked better than most. In fact, for the most part, her marriage to Craig was an uncommon success.

Craig, the handsome and successful husband, was the love of her life. Even in her dreams Amanda couldn’t cheat on Craig. They’d built a life together. For her that was enough. More than enough she told herself.

But Oliver knew it wasn’t enough. Amanda found her life in others but kept her secret soul and passions locked up, bound in shadows and secrets.

At one time, Oliver and Amanda had been lovers. The memory of her warm skin, her lips on his own, her hands in his hair and her passion haunted him. He’d come and gone from her life assuming she’d always be there.

Now he was only with her in the dream world of the night.  She’d remember him in another time and place in long lost memories of centuries past. She’d think she’d had a life in another time with him, a past life of possibilities and promise and passion.

An unlikely candidate this middle aged working mom, too tired and busy  to think of herself except when she let her imagination fly as she commuted to school and work in her car each morning, or when she dozed off at night in her own secret places.

The passions were still in her, as it had been when she was young. How could that be?  He kissed her then buried his face into her neck and when he’d had enough of her he silently left her with dreams of passion and desire.

The following evening Oliver looked up from his desk and there she was, standing in the doorway. Black dress, apple green sweater, black heels. The blue Coach bag, a 50th birthday present from her husband was slung over her shoulder. She looked she owned the world, but she still didn’t think she was beautiful.

How did she find me here? I never told her where I live?

“Amanda.” He said her name as if in a dream.

“Don’t Amanda me Oliver. I want you to leave me alone.”

He stood and approached her with his hands held out. “It was always the wrong time or place for us.”

She stepped back ignoring his open arms. “Don’t even start with me Oliver. It would have never worked. You always said I was too independent. Then you turned around and called me needy.”

“I never said any of those things.” He was shocked by her accusations.

“You didn’t have to say it. You made it obvious you were thinking it.”

He didn’t respond. This wasn’t the time for the witty dialog they’d shared in the past, the long talks through the night or the sweet lover’s words.

“Amanda, you can’t stand there before me and say that with a straight face.”

She looked at the floor then looked up straight into his eyes. “You never told me you loved me.”

“I didn’t have to.”

“Bull shit. You just expected me to hang around and wait for you to come in and out of my life. It got old Oliver. But it doesn’t matter. I’m married to a man who loves me the way I am.  I’m successful, happy and I love my life.”

“I doubt if Craig realizes what a fortunate man he is.”

“He knows.”

“Did you ever tell him about me?” Oliver took a step forward. Amanda folded her arms as if to shut him out.

“I haven’t told anyone about you. They’d all think I was nuts. Just like my Aunt Margaret when she talked about her Vampire.”

“You still love me Amanda.” Oliver said those words quietly with such passion that almost no woman would be able to resist. No woman except Amanda.

She turned and left, slamming the door behind her.

Oliver watched from the window as she got in her car and drove away. The slightest hint of regret surged through his dark thoughts. He’d never meet another who captured his heart and his passions like she had.  He’d never meet anyone who made him laugh or feel the joy of being like Amanda had.

Oliver heard the steps behind him but didn’t turn around. A warm hand caressed his shoulder.

“Is she gone?” The speaker was obviously annoyed.

“Yes.”

“Does she have any idea I’m here?”

“No.”

Craig looked out the window. “Good. Where do we go from here?”

“Are you absolutely sure you want to do this?”

“My son is an Emo freak who acts in plays and writes poetry for fun. My daughter won’t talk to anyone unless it’s a text. My wife is never going to lose the baby fat or stop telling stupid jokes or snoring or complaining how hard she works. It wasn’t what I signed up for.”

“I understand.”

“Just for once I want what I want. I don’t want to go home to a woman who is tired all the time and can’t even comprehend my needs.”

“What about your children? You must care about them on some level.”

“They’ll be fine without me. Amanda will have two million dollars in life insurance to get the kids through college. There’s another 10 million in assets she can sell off if she has to. She’ll make sure her children have wonderful memories of me.”

“The news of your death will break her heart.”

Craig scowled at Oliver. “Amanda is already so miserable she won’t even notice. She’ll be happy to be the unfortunate widow and bask in the glow of her own sorrow. I’m doing her a favor by dying rather than divorcing her.”

“And your girlfriends?” Asked Oliver.

“They’re whores who think they can get ahead by sleeping with the CEO. They’ll both get their pink slips next week. So now what?”

Oliver went back around to his desk and sat in the antique leather chair. “Your car will be found in the river and it will be assumed your body was washed away with the currents. Your wallet and a few clothing items will be found washed up on a beach. It will be assumed that you died.”

“So when do I change?”

“Change?”

“When do I become like you? A Vampire.” Craig asked this impatiently almost sounding like a spoilt teen.

Oliver took a deep breath and answered him. “Tonight if you want, but I’d rather wait until tomorrow.”

Craig leaned on the desk close to the Vampire. “I want this Oliver. I want my freedom.”

“You’ll get what you want Craig.”

“Oliver, I’m telling you…”

Craig started to speak but Oliver held up his hand. “We’ll take my jet to Rome in the morning. By the time we get there you’ll be a different man. The old Craig will be gone forever. In the meantime, you need to see your children one last time.”

Amanda sat in the high school auditorium waiting for the play to start. A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Her son played Lysander and her daughter was playing Puck.

Craig had called earlier to tell her he was working late. He’d been sorry to miss the play but said he’d see it on closing night next weekend. She thought she was going to throw up. She pulled out her phone and listened to the message she’d received right after she’d seen Oliver.

A sing song girlish voice said “Mandy, I mean Amanda, this is Trinity, Craig’s assistant. I wanted to let you know that I’ve been sleeping with your husband for about two years. He said I did all those nasty fetish things you wouldn’t do and I believed him. I really really loved him and would have done anything but he dumped me for Tara Hall. She’s like the VP of Marketing.  They’ve been doing it since October so he was two timing on me too. Stupid puke. So when he says he is gone on business he’s really with her. I just thought you’d want to know because you seem like a nice lady.”

It was the fifth time she’d listened to it. Each time she’d hoped she’d heard it wrong but that wasn’t the case.

A text came in from Craig saying he had a change of plans and was on his way.

Concentrate. Don’t think about him. It isn’t true. He’ll be here any minute. Don’t cry.

The house lights went down and the play started.

Oliver Thomas stood on the side of the river and watched the emergency crews on the opposite shore drag out a sliver convertible, the headless body of the driver still strapped in the seat. Some unfortunate member of the police department would find sightless eyes attached to a severed head staring up at him from the floor of the passenger seat.

Witnesses said another car had forced him off the road. The convertible rolled and went into the water. It had been too dark to get any plate numbers or a good description of the other car.

Craig wanted to be free of his wife and children. A man should have what he wants after all.

Now Oliver would do it right. He’d wait a few months, he had time and he’d be there for Amanda and her children, like he should have been all along.

 

~ end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Night Dogs

Tangled Tales

 

Night Dogs

Constantine Jones sat on the bottom of the museum steps wondering what just happened.

Earlier that evening he’d put on his best Armani suit, a Hermes silk tie, and was feeling good about the outcome of the evening. It was to be a charity event. Beautiful people would be there dressed up. Everyone would be relaxed, and happy, and it would be delightfully fun.

After discussing art and drinking champagne he’d lured a few well-heeled patrons to remote galleries to see some unusual modern art. There he took a few pints of blood from wrists and left his donors with no memories, except those of a delightful conversation with a well dressed, nice looking young art expert. Well, a 165 year old art expert, but that was besides the point.

Then in the main gallery, the California Room, he saw her standing in front of the Thomas Hill grand painting of Yosemite Valley. She wasn’t the most beautiful woman in the room but she was attractive in a cute sort of California girl way, and had that delightful look of both shyness and playfulness. Her olive green dress shimmered along the neckline with iridescent beads. As she turned her head towards him it was like a lightning bolt had hit his heart. First sight.

Second sight as well. A smallish dog of unknown breed stood next to her with a service dog vest on. A service dog. Why did she need a service dog?

With his usual ease, Constantine approached the woman. He asked if he could pet the dog. She said yes. She told him she’d had a head injury when she was in Afghanistan. She’d been in the Army. He would never guessed. The dog could detect seizures.

They talked for an hour about art, and life, and it seemed as if he’d met his soul mate. It was the best hour he’d ever spent. Then she was gone. He hadn’t even asked her name.

So like Prince Charming, he sat at the bottom of the stairs wondering where Cinderella had gone. All he had of her was one of her earrings he’d found on the steps. It was a gold strand with a single diamond on the end. The diamond was real.

I might as well walk home he thought. It was just a couple of miles. He’d clear out his mind. The full moon, and lights from late night downtown bars and restaurants lit the way.

Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw a large dog wearing a back pack. A service dog? A smaller dog in a vest followed. Around the next corner, in an alley, he saw three more large dogs in the dark, all wearing packs.

Maybe it was a training exercise. The dogs could have been German Shepards looking for drugs or a missing person, or even bodies. It was weird, but at this point he didn’t care. He just wanted to go home. He was a Vampire so weird and unusual was over rated anyway.

Constantine thought about the woman he’d met. She’d been a nurse in a convoy, and there was a bomb. She didn’t say anything else except that her dog was named Tess. She liked Jazz music, indie films, and indie books. Of course she liked art too. She was a high school art teacher now, having moved on from nursing. But sometimes she helped out the school nurse. Weird how he got those details. He’d told her… what had he told her about himself? Not much. He was a Vampire so he never told much, at least not at first. He’d told her that he ran a philanthropic foundation that supported the arts, and other causes. He told her he had two cats and liked astronomy. She also was a watcher of the moon and stars. Then she kissed his cheek, excused herself, and a few minutes later he saw her walking out the front door of the museum.

As a Vampire he usually had a good feel for people but he couldn’t get a final read on her. Again, he thought about the fact that he didn’t even get her name. But the dog was named Tess. Tess the service dog.

Constantine thought about war. He could imagine the horrors she’d been through. He was a child during the Civil War or the War Between the States, whatever they wanted to call it. Those weren’t memories he cared to relive. He’d come out to California as soon as he was old enough to be on his own, as soon as he’d become a Vampire, and stayed there.

As he walked along the dogs with packs stayed in the alleys and shadows. Looking at the local news feeds and police scans from his iPhone he found nothing. One of his neighbors was a K-9 cop. Constantine would ask him about it tomorrow.

Arriving home at his craftsman style bungalow he noticed a few dogs in packs at the end of the street. This was getting weird. Odder, and a nice surprise, was that a woman in a slightly wrinkled olive green dress, and a single diamond and gold earring was standing on his front porch.

Tess the service dog stood beside her. Hanging off of her shoulder was a back pack.

No. It couldn’t be. She wasn’t Cinderella. She was a Werewolf.

They introduced themselves, again, but this time with names. Her name was Diana. Like the goddess of the moon.

“You have my earring,” she said smiling and holding out a hand.

“You have my heart,” he heard himself saying, much to his surprise.

Then he kissed her under the full moon, as Tess sat at attention and wagged her tail.

~ End

 

Tangled Tales

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Dawn of the Undead – A Very Short Vampire Story

Dawn of the Undead – A Very Short Vampire Story

It had been a long night of love and blood and fun. So many Halloween parties. It was a good night to be a Vampire.

Jon pulled up to his house and sat in the driveway for a few minutes as he checked his messages. The sky grew lighter in the distance. Soon the sun would be up and he’d be in bed, shutters closed, dreaming sweet dreams of the night skies and warm women with long necks.

As he stepped out of the car something grabbed him and slammed him down in the driveway. Flat on his back he looked up into the face of a Vampire Hunter. Damn it.

“We’re going to hold you here until the sun comes up and you fry,” said a man dressed in black.

“Honestly Dude you’re going to have to cut out my heart or cut my head off to kill me. i guess you could burn me to a crisp but that takes forever. You might want to reconsider. Come on in and we’ll talk about this over a beer or something…” Jon was trying to stall them. The sun wasn’t going to hurt him much.

Turning his head Jon could see the thin ribbon of pink coming up over the hills. Dawn. It was his best hour. It was the time he’d write his best work. It was the time he’d relax and gather his thoughts. It is his time and they were not going to take it from him.

“Guys, I have a deadline on an article for Vampire Review. I have to get it done this morning. You’re making a mistake.”

The Vampire Hunters raised their knives.

A few hours later the sun was in the sky, the birds singing, squirrels ran through the trees. Jon took off his work gloves and put away his shovels. This wasn’t the way he’d planned on spending his morning, but when you’re a Vampire… sometimes you have to face the sun and do what you have to do.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From ghoulies and ghosties

And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

~ end

 

We’re counting down to Halloween. Keep coming back for more stories and other Halloween fun.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman