Short Story Sunday: Blow Up

It wasn’t just one of those days. It was THE day. At least it seemed that way, for a few minutes, then Tara realized that it was a rare week that went by without a disaster.

Take this morning for example. She’d been driving home and heard the sound of an explosion, then sirens, and then saw a huge black cloud coming from the sky. She assumed that it was a fire in a field or an old warehouse occupied by homeless tweekers. She stopped to get gas, then by the grocery store to pick up cat food.

She turned into her street and saw that it was her garage.

“Dingus,” she whispered. Her dog raised his head from the back seat of her car. “Amber,” she said out loud. “Oh no. Amber.”

The detached garage was gone. Firefighters were working on keeping the rest of the house from burning down. Tara parked and ran down the street towards her house. Dingus ran after her.

Her neighbor Sue was standing outside with a beer in her hand. She approached Tara and stopped her from getting too close to the fire. “I have Amber. Your kitty is safe sweetie.”

“What about the guys in the garage?” Tara looked at the fire with tears coming down her cheek.

“I’m going to assume they’re gone. Holy shit, to come all this way and blow themselves up in a garage fire,” said Sue. “I told them just the other day to lay low and not fool with stuff. They never listened. That is on of the great faults of history. Nobody listens to the natives. They have to think they know better. They have to think their technology is always better.”

The women watched as the fire was put out, then Tara approached one of the fire fighters. She held her big Lab mix Dingus close and told him not to jump.

“Hey, Dingus,” he said as he pulled off a glove and put his and on the dog’s head. “I’m so sorry Tara. This is so weird. We thought there was someone in your garage. Maybe… I don’t know. It was weird, like someone running around in the flames. Then we didn’t see them. Was there anyone who might have been in your garage?”

“No, Joe. The only thing I had in there was Dale’s old Mustang, a few tools, and gardening stuff. My Costco stash was in there too, you know toilet paper, paper towels, charcoal. But I kept the lighter fluid in the house. I had a couple of gas cans for the power tools but they were empty.”

They talked some more about the weird explosion and fire. The a handsome officer from the Sheriff Department asked some general questions. He said someone would be out to investigate. Tara called her insurance company, then called her mom and her boss.

After all of the emergency crews had gone, and the yellow tape was around my garage, Sue and Tara poked around a bit.

The women couldn’t find any trace of anything. That included Tara’s deceased brother Dale’s 1965 Mustang convertible. It was a sweet ride – white with a red interior. Dale had loved that car. So had Tara.

Sue looked down at the burnt out garage then at Tara. “Do you think they took the car?”

“Looks that way,” said Tara.

Later that night Sue’s husband and kids came home from a school field trip. They speculated on what might have happened. They decided not to tell the fire department or Sheriff about their own theories.

Despite the smoke smell Tara decided to stay in her house that night. Joe came over later and spent the night. They shared a bottle of wine, made love, and Tara didn’t tell him anything about her garage.

Far away on the moon Titan, circling the planet Saturn, Dolf and Wheeze drove into the underground city in Dale’s 1965 Mustang. They thought their parents were going to kill them for crashing their ship in Tess’s back yard. They’d even get more shit for blowing up her garage. They’d put a chip in Amber’s neck to make sure they’d know what was happening on Earth. Amber seemed to know everything. She was their best long-term connection. But for now they just wanted to settle in from the long trip and cruise with their friends. Life was good, especially for Titan teens.

 

~ end

Thank you for reading yet another story quickly written over Sunday morning coffee.

Yes, this story is in honor of Art Bell who passed away on the 13th (yes Friday the 13th.) I spent many a long lonely drive listening to Coast to Coast, and all of the weird callers who talked about aliens, shadow people, black eyed children, ghosts, and other interesting and amazing things. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: The Bully

The Bully

Sunday mornings on the deck with coffee, a cat purring in my lap, a dog at my feet and my beautiful family still asleep upstairs equals something good. It is all good.

Of course it wasn’t always that way. I think of my kids. I’ve done a lot to make sure they’re strong and secure. I make sure they’re not open to con artists and bullies. I made sure that they learned to stand up for the weak and those who are different.

So why am I musing on such lofty parenting goals? It is because their witty, confident, successful and good looking dad was once the kid who went to school in fear each day because of bullies. Nobody thought anything of bullies back then, when I was a kid. It was part of the school culture. But you know, even as a kid I knew it was wrong and one day it would be over.

It was over for me by the time I was 13. I went to high school and reinvented myself into a funny smart semi-popular kid.

My mind went back to fifth grade – in particular to one kid. Ronnie Martin was the personification of a bully. He was Goofus in Highlights Magazine. He was a sadistic little shit who never let down on reminding me that I was smaller and weaker than he was. Ronnie amassed an army of schoolyard thugs up against me. I was taunted, tripped, lied about, and shunned by other kids. I never knew why his one goal in life was to make my life a living Hell.

Once we got to high school nobody would put us with his bullshit. He faded into the background of kids nobody sees. I was free.

So what brought these memories back on a beautiful Sunday morning?

Last Friday on the way home my 15 year old son and I stopped by the hardware store to pick up some supplies for a leaking faucet. I still had on my suit (important meeting at the Capitol that day) sans the jacket. My son had on a band shirt and skinny jeans (no sagging mind you.) We were a typical father and son – only my son was an inch taller than me. When did that tiny six pound baby grow to be six feet tall?

I’d sent Tristan off to find a new front doormat while I went through the thirty thousand small bins of washers.

Standing in isle 34 I heard a voice that made me go cold.

“Here kitty kitty.”

In fronting of me was Ronnie Martin. He was older and larger than I remembered. The last time I remember seeing him was 45 years ago in Freshman English class when a couple of popular kids told him nobody put up with bullies in our high school and that they liked me. Now here Ronnie was a big slob with a gray ponytail, bad ink on his arms and a shit eating grin on his face.

I had the misfortune to be named Bartholomew. My mother called me by my full name. I went by Bart. Ronnie picked up on the mew.

Back in elementary school Ronnie and his minions would follow me making pathetic mewing noises and yelling “here kitty kitty.” Someone once filled my desk with cat litter. Ronnie told the teacher I’d done it to get out of work. She believed him. I had to clean it up and was sent to the office where the principal lectured me on my bad behavior. Such was my life for the next three years.

Ronnie made sure I was always picked last on teams and that I never had a place to sit on the bus. Now I look back on it I realize that I was his obsession. It just seems so sick and twisted now.

The bully looked me up and down in isle 34 like some creeper looking at a pretty girl in short skirt. “So I hear you’re some sort of big shot. What are you the gay secretary?”

He knew I owned a successful advertising and PR agency. He must have known.

Tristan came up with a doormat looking curious at the big rough looking Buba blocking my way.

I tried to pass and Ronnie blocked me. I looked him in the eye. “The fact that you bullied me does not define me. The fact that you are a bully defines you and will always define you.”

“You’re still a pussy Bart. You’ll always be a pussy.”

I said nothing but I knew he’d always be an asshole.

Putting my arm around Tristan I headed for the check out.

“What was that about Dad?” My son gave me one of those amused WTF looks.

“Just some loser I knew in elementary school.”

Tristan started to laugh in that way teen boys laugh. I had to laugh too.

 

~end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

WPAD SciFi

Short Story Sunday: The Changeling

Goblins are known to steal sweet babies of Humans and replace them with Changelings.

Lovely happy babies will suddenly seem to change. Well they have. Your baby has been replaced by a crying, unhappy, grouchy, nasty, Goblin Changeling.

Sometimes the horrible Changelings are left to die on the doorsteps of churches or locked in attics. Usually the real babies are brought back. Fairies and others help out. More often or not ransoms are paid. A mother might pay with her beauty. A father might pay with his strength. It could be anything depending on the mood of the Goblins.

In my case the Goblins took the baby and dropped me into the crib of someone who seemed oblivious to my nastiness.

I spend my entire childhood treating my parents like crap and tormenting my little brother Trevor. My brother hated me but he should have loved me. Without me Trevor would have been one of those sensitive milk-sap boys who lets people walk all over him. I made him tough. I made him stand up for himself. He should have thanked me for it.

I have no idea why my parents put up with me. The only reason I wasn’t expelled from every school I attended is because I always made straight A’s. Sure I caused a lot of tears but I kept the school yard in line. My minions kept close while I doled out punishments fitting crimes of weakness. As for lies… I was the princess of lies, and adults never knew what was going on. They always believed me.

Sure there were more times I could count that my mom was in tears but hey, that is what you get for accepting a Goblin Changeling. She could have dumped me in foster care or sent me off to some farm of a distant relative. People suggested boarding schools and drugs and shock treatments. She just told them that they could never understand that I was different and unique in ways that nobody could ever understand.

At one time my parents sent me to counseling. I told Dr. Cray everything she wanted to hear. She said I was a well adjusted and brilliant child. She said I was mature for my age hence others not understanding me. Boy did I have it pulled over her eyes.

Anyway, Trevor and I grew up and went out on our own. I met a few other Changelings and even married one.

We were one of those successful power couples. He was the CEO of a billion dollar software company. I was an attorney and the biggest asshole out there and proud of it. Beauty and brains and no morals what-so-ever. Justice for all.

My husband Blake was an arrogant, self-centered, SOB and I loved him. He loved me to as only a Goblin Changeling can love another Goblin Changeling.

I remember a day when a woman approached me. This should have been one of those turning points where I changed my heart. I’d gone to school with her.

She said, “You were a bully. A mean horrible bully. You ruined lives.”

I just glared at her and said, “You’re so fucking weak. You should have learned from your bad experience. Instead you made the choice to be a loser.”

I’m like that. I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks. I don’t care if they said I mean to my parents and twice as horrible to my brother. Tell me something I don’t know.

So on Mother’s Day I showed up at my parents with my husband. The hubby joined my dad in the back at the grill. Trevor and his wife Emily were in the kitchen with my mom. I put the vase of yellow roses I’d brought for my mom down on breakfast nook table and gave my mother a rare kiss.

Trevor glared at me. Emily looked uncomfortable.

“I have good news Katie,” said my mom. “Trevor and Emily are going to have a baby.”

“How about that Trevor, you aren’t dickless. Well congratulations.”

“Why did you have to say that Katie. Why are you so horrible all the time,” said the lovely Emily.

“I’m just like that Em. Well, I have news too. I’m pregnant too,” I said.

Trevor got right into my face. “You always have to try to upstage me Katie. I don’t care if you are having a baby. Your child will NEVER be allowed to be with mine. NEVER.”

“You know baby brother, if it wasn’t for me you’d never be with Emily. Why do you think all of those other bitch girlfriends of yours dumped you before you ended up with her. I was looking out for you asshole. I was also the reason you have your dream job. So fuck you Trevor. I hope your kid is ugly and stupid.”

My mom should have looked shocked but she was used to me. I was pissed and went into the living room. Mom followed.

“Are you happy about your baby Katie?”

“Sure. It will be fun.” Then I looked into her blue eyes and suddenly I wanted to cry. I mean, my eyes started to sting and water up. “You’re amazing mom. Why did you put up with me all these years?”

“Because I knew nobody else would take you. My own baby had passed on. My little angel had never been right. The Goblins had scheduled a drop off not knowing there was no baby for them to take home. They just left you. Even Goblins don’t want their Changlings. What was your dad and I to do?”

“But mom, you knew?”

“Always.”

“So why’d you keep me?”

“Remember that horrible cat Billy we used to have.”

I remembered Billy. He was worse than I was. He’d hiss at everyone. He’d growl when you’d feed him. No act of kindness was rewarded. Billy was nuts. Damn, he was the Devil’s own cat.

My mom continued, “we kept Billy because if we’d given him up he would have died. Nobody else would have understood. He would have been put down. It was the same with you.”

“I loved that cat,” I told my mom.

“I know you did Katie,” said my mom.

She put her arm around me. “Let’s go back to the others Katie. And do me a favor. Try to be nice. Just for today.”

“Sure. I love you mom.”

“Love you too Katie. More than you’ll ever know.”

“When I’m a mom I want to be just like you.”

We joined the rest of the family around the grill, all smiles and making nice. All the while I was thinking of ways to torture my brother and get even on the rest of the universe.

Tangled Tales

 ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

I Hate Valentine’s Day

I Hate Valentine’s Day

A Short Vampire Story

“I shouldn’t be alone today,” thought young Randy as he sat brooding on a rock, on the beach at 5:30 a.m. on Valentine’s Day. His heart was broken. The girl, a Vampire girl he knew he was going to fall in love with had given her heart to another and left him in the dreaded friend zone.

And it wasn’t as if she’d left him, or chosen another college student. Sure the guy she’d fallen for looked like he was twenty-one but he was born in freaking 1902. What did girls see in these older guys?

He was jolted from his thoughts by a “Hi. You’re Randy, aren’t you?”

A dark haired girl stood in front of him. “I’m Alexis. I’m in your Organic Chemistry class. I’m a Vampire, but you knew that. I know you are too. Small world.”

“Oh, right. Sure. Hi. Have a seat,” said Randy, glad for the company now.

“I hate Valentine’s Day,” said Alexis.

“Why do you hate it?”

She sat down on rock next to him. “My parents were borderline Shadow Creepers, you know old time Vampires who stayed in the dark most of the time. Nobody knew we were Vampires but everybody including the other school parents thought my parents were weird. I got picked on a lot at school. I was like quiet and small. I didn’t know how to stand up for myself. I didn’t dare try any of my Vampire stuff on anyone. I was afraid if anyone found out they’d kill my family.  Anyway, every Valentine’s Day we’d have to make stupid boxes and bring Valentines. I always made something pretty with roses and flowers and stuff, all pink and nice. I always But I never got any Valentines. Maybe from one of the girls who felt sorry for me. Everyone had full boxes except me. The kids all started to laugh at me. I wanted to rip their throats out but I couldn’t. You know, Vampire code.”

“Sure, don’t show them what you are, no matter what. Did your mom and dad know?”

“I never told them anything. We didn’t talk much at home. But I got my revenge.”

“Revenge?”

“I told the teacher I had to go the bathroom. Of course the boys started to make jokes about how I’d stink the school up. They were mean like that. Always. It never stopped. So like the teacher said someone had to go with me to make sure I wouldn’t spend too much time in there, cause sometimes I’d just go there to get away from it all. She said that Ashley should go with me. Ashley was the most popular girl.

She started to pout and complain. So a girl called Emma volunteered. Emma was the only kid who gave me a Valentine. She was kind of overweight and sometimes the other kids would say mean things to her too, but she was the smartest kid in the class so they didn’t say too much.

When we got out of the classroom she said she knew I didn’t need to go to the bathroom. We walked around for a bit, then went back to the classroom. But we didn’t go in.

“You can make them pay for what they did. I’ll help you,” said Emma. “I’m a Witch. I know what you are.” Then she smiled in a way that even scared me.

We didn’t go in. The door locked. The room filled with smoke. The other kids started to scream. They couldn’t get out. Everyone started to claw at their faces and arms. That is except the teacher who kept trying to open the door. We ran to the office to get help. You know, we had to keep up appearances.

By the time the fire department go there and knocked down the door, the smoke at gone away, but the smell of sulphur was still in the room. Some of the kids had clawed out their eyes and made huge gashes in their faces and arms.

Then Emma whispered in my ear, “they’ll never call you ugly again.”

Hey, even I was shocked. I never did a thing. It was all her. Both of us ended up going to another school. In high school I made a lot of friends. They all thought my parents were cool Goths. The rest of the kids are still all scarred and screwed up.”

Randy looked at her feeling sort of numb. “Where is Emma now?”

“She got into swimming. Lost a lot of weight. Turned blonde. She’s at UCLA now. So Randy, why don’t you like Valentine’s day?”

“A girl I liked started seeing another guy.”

“Bummer. Sorry to hear that.”

They sat in silence for a while, listening to the waves. Randy didn’t know what to say. He and his best friend had been the two most popular boys at their high school. Their lives had been happy and relatively care free. Their parents were modern Vampire in every way possible.

Alexis bumped her shoulder gently against Randy’s. “I hope you don’t think I’m weird.”

“No. Well, maybe just a little.”

“Looks like the storm is coming in. Wanna get coffee? No pressure. It’s not like I want to be your girlfriend or anything like that. Just you know, like just a couple of Vampire friends.”

“Sure,” said Randy.

As they walked up to the street he put on his sunglasses against the morning sun. Well, stranger things had happened.

~ End

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: Off To See The Wizard

Druce had just pulled his toasted seed and dried berry bread out of the oven when his friend Morcant came through the door carrying a basket.

“What do you got in there?”

“Smoked salmon, a bottle of squid ink, and dried salted kelp chips.”

“Nice.”

“I see you’ve made your famous berry bread. That will win over the hearts of the coldest stone.”

“We can only hope. I’m paring it with a jar of honeycomb, and a jug of my best mead.”

Druce wrapped up the bread and took a look at his friend. Morcant wore a soft seal skin over his shoulders. His tunic was sleeveless showing off his muscular arms. Today Morcant’s black hair was worn down around his shoulders framing his handsome face. Druce never wondered why all of the women in their village and the surrounding area sought Morcant out even if it was just to look.

The seal skin was that of Morcant’s sister who’d died in the past summer season. She and Morcant were Selkies. On land they were human, and in the sea they were seals. They guarded their seal skins with their lives, for if anyone stole their skin they would be trapped as humans, and in bondage forever.

Morcant’s brother-in-law never took his wife’s skin, but celebrated the fact that as a Selkie she had come to him of her own free will. Her love was free, and her husband was devoted to her. They had that rare true love that so many seek but never find.

One day while they were out fishing, his sister still in her human form, they were overcome by a great shark and dragged to the bottom of the sea as dinner. Morcant, as customary for Selkies now wore his sister’s skin to stay close to her spirit and to have her love with him always.

Druce looked into his mirror and brushed his sun streaked brownish blonde waves with his fingers. He was smaller than Morcant, and not quite as handsome, but the ladies still liked him too. And of course he liked them more than they could imagine.

“So, Druce,” said Morcant, “when exactly did this Wizard guy come into town?”

“Last week, under the darkness of the night.”

“What’s he like?”

“Personally? I don’t know. I hear he was sleeping with his sister. Nymue told me that. She also said he used to stalk her, asking her about her magic and getting all sappy and trying to sound mystical about it. One day she showed him a sword she was going to give to the next king and he said I’ll show you my magic sword. She kicked him out and told him she’d put a bad enchantment on him if he ever hit on her again. And I mean bad, you know, guy bad, like his sword won’t work for a year or two. Like a blade of grass.”

“Sounds like a creeper.”

“A real mess if you ask me. Anyway, that was a while back so maybe he’s changed. Gotta give a guy some doubt that he has grown up since his misplaced youth chasing ladies in lakes and all of that shit.”

“OK so I don’t get it Druce. You’re the Worlock around here. What’s the difference between you and some Wizard dude, except that you’re better looking and are better with women.”

Druce laughed. “As a Warlock, I can, how can I put this so it won’t sound weird. As you know I can harness and control spirits, demons, and other’s who aren’t human. I can’t make them work for me. I also control their evil so that they can’t harm people. I take their energy and do good with it. I can also do other magic and tricks through my own will. I deal with both sides of the world, that of the dead and that of the living. That of the physical and that of the spirits.”

“And what about Wizards?”

“Wizards learn their craft. They are gifted in the ways of magic, but their magic comes mostly from the use of potions, and the channeling of their magic through a staff, or wand. They can scare spirits and demons but they can’t control them. And Wizards are giving Warlocks a bad rap. I hear that in other parts my kind are being hunted down and burned to death. They think we’re minions of Satan.”

“That’s bull shit. Then why the fuck are we going to greet this guy and bring him gifts. He sounds like a freak to me.”

“Because he is working for the King.”

“The Kings is an idiot. He is obsessed with some old cup, and everyone knows his wife is sleeping with his best friend.”

“Hey, I didn’t put him into office. Blame that on Nyume. The Lady of The Lake should have minded her own business and …”

There was a scream and in through the door came a whirl of gray, which stopped and materialized into a woman. She smiled showing lovely white teeth, but her eyes were black and crazy. No harm. Just their friend Milen, who was also a Banshee.

“Milen,” said Druce, as he blew her a kiss. “Thanks for coming. I have fresh venison stew in the pot there over the fire. I put the eyes in there for you.”

She grinned and put a long fingered hand into the boiling stew and plucked out an eye, the popped it into her mouth.

“Hey, Milen, we should be gone just a few hours,” said Druce. “I’m so glad you could watch the baby for me.”

“Ohhhhhh of course,” she said as she went over to a baby unicorn who was curled up asleep in its tiny bed made of soft sea grasses and dried fragrant flowers.

“Alright then, we’ve better get going, if we’re going to go,” said Druce, and they packed up their gifts and went to meet their new neighbor.

The new Wizard had chosen and old Roman camp on a hill as his new home. The buildings were already there and in fairly good shape. It was also about a five day journey from there to where the King lived. Or at least the king the Wizard worked for.

The two friends arrived at the home of the Wizard and were greeted by a tall man with a brown beard flecked with gray. His eyes shone blue like spring wildflowers, flecked with gold.

The Wizard welcomed them in and introduced himself as Merlin, the Wizard. There was something sort of sad about him, like someone who had a lot of friends, but nobody he was really close to. Druce wondered if Merlin could pick up on emotions and sadness like a Warlock could. Or like a woman could.

Merlin thanked them for the gifts and asked them to come sit. He led them to a room where the walls were covered with tapestries and the chairs with lush textiles and furs.

“The seal skin you wear is beautiful. The finest I’ve ever seen,” said Merlin to Morcant.

“This is my sister’s skin. She passed six moons back. I wear this skin in her honor.”

There was a pause in the conversation and a bit of weirdness.”

“Morcant is a Selkie,” said Druce.

Merlin looked surprised. He was surprised. He’d never met a Selkie before. It seemd, as they talked, that there were a lot of things Merlin had never done.

Still they visited and had polite small talk. Druce and Morcant of the village and the surrounding peoples, and those who were not people. There was also a lot they didn’t tell him. When the sun began to set Druce and Morcant bid their host goodbye.

They started the walk home in silence but then Morcant spoke.

“Merlin was nice. Not much of a bro, if you know what I mean, but nice. But dude, he has more demons than you’ll ever have.”

Druce gave a sad smile, “At least I can control my demons. Fuck, they aren’t even my demons. Merlin needs more sunshine, and he needs to divorce himself from his dysfunctional family and friends. I always tell everyone that it isn’t demons that are bugging them, it is their toxic friends and family members that are getting them down. He needs to let go.”

“True,” said Morcant. “Are you going to tell him about the unicorn?”

“Hell no,” said Druce. “I’m not telling him where the dragons are either.”

As they passed a cottage on the edge of a field of grain a woman stepped out and greeted them. “Morcant, will you stay the night with me? I could use your love, and I’ll have plenty to give back.”

“Go,” said Druce. He knew Morcant had been seeing the Widow Cath for few months. Her elderly husband had died leaving her a large farm to manage, a task she did better than most men. Morcant had always been fond of her, but now it was becoming a bit more than fond.

At home Druce found the Banshee Milen sleeping with the tiny unicorn baby in her lap. She’d taken on a physical form, that of a woman of a certain age who had a well earned beauty earned from a life well lived, at least before she had been betrayed and murdered by her husband. He put a blanket woven of the softest flax over them.

He poured a glass of beer and pulled a stool outside in his garden, out under the stars. He could hear the waves of the ocean. Maybe later he’d go down to the beach and see what spirits were among the sea shells and boats tonight.

But now he sat and thought of the sad Wizard. Then he thought of the women he knew and how it would be nice to have one of them in his bed that night, skin against skin, and a special kind of magic that came when two people came together in desire of both the body and the soul.

Then he thought about how dragons had become so endangered due to the trade of dragon bones by Wizards for their wealthy clients. Everyone with half a brain knew that dragon bones powder did nothing to make one’s manhood larger.

Then he thought of women again.

Milen the Banshee came out with a stool and sat next to him. He told her about his visit to Merlin. She said it was sad when one was so full of power and so lost. Then she said she was glad her husband had been hanged after she’d died. She always mentioned that. Druce didn’t blame her. She hadn’t planned on being a Banshee.

Then she put her hand on Druce’s. “Darlin, I’ll be in human for for another hour or two. Let’s go inside and take advantage of that.”

And like any good Warlock who knew what was good for him Druce kissed her and took her inside.

~ End

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Mail Order House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Since 1963.”

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

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

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

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

“Did you hunt tonight Elizabeth?”

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

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

~ end

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