Short Story Sunday: A Ray of Hope (A Thanksgiving Story)

Thanksgiving is in Tahoe this year. My husband Justin’s family has a large beach front cabin. It is a 5,000 square foot cabin and two other smaller A frames within walking distance. Yes, they’re insanely rich, at least to me. They’re also incredible loving and giving and have taken me into their family as one of their own.

My mom left when I was five, taking my twin baby brother and sister with her. Dad said she said she was bored with her life. Bored with my dad and bored with me. I only saw her once after that. She’d poisoned the minds of my siblings by telling them that my dad was abusive. Her new husband gladly went along and encouraged it. My brother is now a successful motivational speaker. My sister is a teacher. I don’t talk to them. They don’t want to talk to me, but they like to talk about me, or somebody they say is me. I don’t care anymore.

When I was growing up Thanksgiving were small, like my grandparent’s two bedroom house – Just my dad, Grandpa and Grammy, and Uncle Ray. We’d gather around the kitchen table in Grammy’s kitchen and have a feast on old chairs covered with yellow vinyl. The table would be covered with turkey, green bean casserole, jellied cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes with little marshmallows browned on top. Everything except the turkey came out of a can except the wine. The wine was from a box with ice cubes. It was great.

Uncle Ray lived with Grandpa and Grammy. He believed that at the age of 15 he was abducted by aliens and taken for a blinding fast tour of the universe and Planet X. Ray believed that Jesus was protecting bigfoot, unicorns and other rarely seen creatures so that when mankind finally killed itself off that those were the creatures who would rule the earth. A great gray wolf would lead dwarves and elves out from their underground kingdoms to live in peace. Aliens from space would set up trade routes to earth and help the new found order prosper.

Despite his weirdness Uncle Ray was accepted into UC Berkley and managed to obtain a degree in Political Science. With his knowledge of politics he began working on his plan for a new world order he’d build along with Jesus and the Bigfoots and elves.

Yes, Uncle Ray was nuts but I adored him. My dad protected him. My grandparents accepted him. The university where he occasionally taught a course tolerated him. He never married so I was the only child there for the holidays.

At night a few hours after pie and watching “Meet Me in St. Louis”, Ray and I would go outside. He’d grab a turkey leg and I’d take a wing. We’d munch on our turkey while Ray pointed out constellations and tell me about his time with the aliens and his love for Jesus.

Ray would always take my hand and solemnly tell me, “Jenna, what I’m telling you is real. I’m not crazy.” Then we’d go inside and have turkey races with some funky wind-up toys my Grandpa got for us. We’d laugh until our sides hurt.

My grandparents and Ray are gone now. Grandpa died in his sleep the year I graduated from college. Grammy had a stroke a few months later while at a prayer group. Three years ago Ray went hiking in Death Valley one spring and vanished. The rangers found his backpack, hiking boots and an empty water bottle. There was a note that said, “Tell Jenna that I love her.”

I still have the note.

Thanksgiving with my family was never fancy or exciting but I knew I was loved.

Right after I graduated away from college my dad remarried. I met my husband Justin and Thanksgiving dishes no longer involved food from cans or vinyl chairs.

This year dad and his wife Gracie went to Montana to visit friends for Thanksgiving. I knew I’d miss them but wished them a good time.

As Justin and I drove up into the mountains I thought about Ray as I looked out the car at the forests. Over the river and through the woods… When I was 16 Ray and I would drive up to the mountains to see the stars. I’d drive. He never learned how. In the cool summer nights we’d stand in a clearing at 8,000 feet and watch the endless show of zillions of stars and watch for shooting stars and satellites. Ray would tell me about the aliens who’d be back to get him. He’d tell me about how the ancient Greeks would navigate ships and come to America to visit. He’d tell me about planets that were inhabited by people so beautiful that our eyes would explode if we looked at them. He’d tell me that he’d been in love with a girl once and kissed her under the stars but she killed herself. He said he’d see her again. The aliens said they had taken her just before her soul was lost. Uncle Ray said to never be sad. He also told me over and over that he wasn’t crazy.

“What are the thinking about?” Justin startled me out of my reverie.

“My Uncle Ray. I miss him.”

Justin put his hand on mine. “I know honey, I know.”

Thanksgiving was spectacular. The food was amazing, the company was wonderful, the day was perfect. I’m blessed to be married into such a great family.

A few hours after dinner, after football and a lot of other fun, I took Justin by the hand and led him to the kitchen. I got myself a smoked turkey wing and gave Justin a leg, then poured two glasses of wine, minus the ice cubes and took him outside to watch the stars.

We talked about what fun we’d had that day. Then we talked about starting our own family, maybe trying to start that week.

A fireball sailed across the sky. I couldn’t figure out what it was. Maybe a meteorite?

Justin held my hand and said, “It’s your Uncle Ray.”

I think it was.

 

~ End

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Morning at the Vineyard

Morning at the Vineyard

A story from Juliette Kings

Andrew didn’t remember much when the door opened with blinding light waking him from his sleep, much less the voice that said “You aren’t dead.”

“Of course I’m not dead.” Andrew lifted himself up on his elbow and looked around at the bedroom.

“You were so cold. We couldn’t hear your heart.” A slim woman with long slightly graying hair stood near the bed.

“That’s what all the girls say.” No response. “That was a joke.”

“Oh. Ha ha ha. Good one.” Uncomfortable laughing.

There was the taste of blood in his mouth, but not his own. It must have been a Hell of a night. He looked at the woman again. She was pretty but not young, standing there in a flowing sundress and pretty light summer sweater. Nice. This would be fairly easy staying here for a few days, but he would still be cautious. Sometimes the most easy ones turned out to be the most dangerous.

Andrew started to get up and realized he was naked under the sheets.

“Your clothes were soaked and also covered with blood. We thought about calling the police but my husband Ian said to wait until morning. My husband Dennis said the same. I don’t agree with them. We should have called the police as soon as we found you.”

“Where was I?”

“In the vineyard, face down in the dirt. Your car was in a ditch with four flats and the front end smashed in. We pulled it out.”

The Tesla. Quiet and fast and expensive. Then he thought about what she said. “Husbands? You mentioned two husbands.”

“We practice polyandry. Two husbands, one wife, one family. It isn’t legal or common or accepted by most people but…”

“I don’t have a problem with it. As long as it works for you.”

“It does.”

She took a stack of clothing, jeans, a shirt, etc, from the top of the dresser and gave it to Andrew. “Clean clothing. Breakfast will be ready in about a half hour. And we’ll discuss who you are and why you’re here and where all the blood came from.” Then she turned and left the room.

What a night. The fog started to clear from Andrew’s brain. He staggered up out of the bed and closed the window shades. Damn sunlight. Looking in the mirror the reflection looked back showing a well built man with alabaster skin, long chestnut curls flowing down his back, a classically handsome face and hazel eyes the color of the blue green southern seas. His mouth twitched showing fangs. He quickly gained his composure and hid the teeth and rubbed his tired eyes.

“Shit. What the crap happened to you Andrew,” he said to himself. There was wine, a lot of wine. There were women. There was a guy named Brant and his friend Chet. There was the girl Ginger…she had AB + blood, Chet had O. Oh no. Why didn’t he remember? And how’d he end up face down in the middle of a vineyard? Zinfandel. He knew what kind of grapes they were.

Taking a 3 minute shower, he towel dried his long locks, pulled on the clothes the woman had left him and went down the stairs. He could smell food cooking and coffee. He gripped the banister to prevent himself from throwing up everything inside of his stomach. He’d over done it for sure, blood and wine. Wine and blood. Sex too but that was  a blur. Food might do him some good.

In the kitchen were two men and the woman, along with half a dozen kids in who ranged from about 8 to 17.

He looked at the men. A large blonde man who looked like a former football player introduced himself as Ian. Dennis was shorter with the look of a History Professor or some sort of thing like that. They called the woman Carrie. One big happy family.

Ian poured Andrew coffee and welcomed him. They all welcomed him. This was getting creepy. Then again, Andrew was the Vampire, but he was sitting in the home of a farmer and wine maker and her two husbands and six kids. It was weird. But hey, he decided to make the best of it.

They made small talk. He thanked them for taking him in. Carrie put plates of eggs and fried tofu and toast and fruit and bacon and mushrooms on the table.

The teenage girls thought Andrew’s hair was great and asked him if he was in a band. He smiled minus fangs. He must have had at least five cups of coffee.

“Last night I thought you had some nasty scratches on your face,” mentioned Ian.

“I, uh, heal fast.” Andrew said that then wished he’d kept his mouth shut. He healed fast because he wasn’t like them. He took the blood and energy of regular normal people and in return, he made them feel good – like a rush that would last at least a week. Well, if he liked them and made a connection.

“Where’d all the blood come from? Except for the scratch on your face you didn’t have a mark on you.” As Carrie said that she gave him a long cold look.

“Blood? On me? I guess I drank too much. Too much of everything and threw up. I don’t know. My friends drank a lot and someone was doing some sort of recreational drugs or maybe prescription pain killers, I’m not sure, but I over did it. Listen, I’m so sorry about this and I really appreciate your hospitality. I’ve imposed on you. I wish there was something I could do to pay you back. Let me know.”

Ian gave him a pat on the arm. “We know what it is like to be different.”

“You’re a Vampire aren’t you?” Dennis asked as the kids all looked on.

Andrew brushed a damp lock of hair out of his face and suddenly felt a little warm. “Yes, but…”

“How long have you been a Vampire?” Carrie was asking now.

“I’ve always been one. My parents were Vampires. Um, I was born just down the road from here. October 22, 1851.”

The children were transfixed.

“We don’t have a problem with Vampires. Some food might settle your stomach Andrew,” said Carrie. “And you’re welcome to stay as long as you like. We found your phone and called your sister. She’ll be here in a couple of hours.”

This was all too strange for Andrew. He’d spent the past 100 years or thereabouts avoiding families and any kind of normal human lives. Years had passed traveling, and performing and enjoying wine and women and wild nights. But now he sat with a nice family with no pretenses. And rarely had he ever met humans who knew or even knew about real Vampires. It was so unusually weird.

I sing opera,” he said to the kids. “Mainly opera but I can sing just about anything. Just got back from Patagonia and learned a bunch of folk songs. I can do metal too. That comes naturally.”

“I can imagine you do a great power ballad,” Carrie said with a smile, then she told the children to leave the room.

Andrew had to smile. This as so weird but he could get used to this. He looked at Carrie’s golden brown eyes. A positive blood, just like his. She’d make a good Vampire, or even just a snack.

He thought about his sister. It had been forever since he’d seen her or her children. It would be nice. More than nice. Maybe she’d get another husband too. He might suggest it. He smiled. That would be funny.

“What happened to my friends? Did you see any of them?” Andrew looked from Dennis to Ian then to Carrie. “Did they say where they went?”

Carrie looked him in the eye as Dennis and Ian flanked her side. “We buried them in the garden behind the carriage house.”

“Don’t worry,” said Dennis “Nobody ever found the other bodies we’ve buried, so they won’t find your friends.”

Andrew took another gulp of coffee and hoped his sister would arrive soon.

 

And that was the entire truth just as my brother Andrew told it to me

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

In Appreciation of Rex The Dog – A Halloween Tail

dogsleep

Consider the dog…

Rex was a small dog of the largest order. He had the courage of a lion, the voice of an opera star and the heart of a lover.

Rex was a real son of a bitch too. He’d stare anyone down. Take on large dogs five times his size with gusto – always being the one to draw the most blood.

Rex’s owner took him everywhere. Rex went to business meetings, poker games, and all manner of business. Where his man went Rex followed tail in the air, head high, quick feet. Rex loved parties where ladies would come in big pretty skirts and scoop him up in their arms and hug him. They’d talk in high baby like voices to him that he liked a lot. It would get him all excited, so much in fact that he wanted to jump and bark. They’d throw him balls and kiss him when he returned.

Later they’d want to kiss his master as well, but it rarely went past a kiss. When it did Rex would stand guard at the door, just in case.

Rex watched for the watchers of the night. These were the people who smelled more like predators than most folks. They were always good to Rex – better than most, but Rex knew to watch. He’d watch them because according to the rules of the dog one has to watch one’s back for larger dogs. The predators weren’t larger but they were more dangerous. But like some of the big dogs, Rex loved them. He saw them protect his master from harm that his master couldn’t see. There were evil forces that only dogs and other predators can see. His master and most people were not predators.

“One can love without complete trust if one is being protected.” Or at least that is what Rex made himself believe.

Rex had been with his master since he was a teen. Now his master was 25. He was a successful man, about to be married, on the edge of greatness. But Rex knew it was time to go to where all good dogs go.

Nights grew colder and fall came. Rex had a hard time walking. He was 14 years old. Not a young dog anymore. Then one night he curled on the foot of his master’s bed and fell asleep forever.

The next night his master, still devastated by the loss of his small and noble companion heard a quiet knock on his door. It tapped out a rhythm not unlike a popular song at the time. He went to the door and there stood a beautiful girl. He knew her. He knew her father and well-respected family. She looked so lovely with her blonde bottle curls and paisley shawl around her milky white shoulders. She wore a ball gown of pink and cream. What was she doing there?

He told her she needed to leave, it wasn’t proper for a girl of her age, and standing,  to be out alone at a man’s house,  but she talked her way in. The man should have lived a long life and joined his faithful dog Rex in Heaven. Instead he discovered the girl, and the two friends who had come with her were predators – some of the very ones who had fed Rex treats and thrown him balls.

Rex’s Master, to this day says that night he went to Hell. Dragged down by rogue Vampires. Rex would have warned him, or at least he thought.

He has had many dogs since then, but he’ll always remember Rex, the dog with more charm and spunk than 100 dogs put together.

Teddyanddog

That has been a favorite story for the Vampire kids for a long time. For Rex went away and the next day was Halloween night, the night his master unwillingly became a Vampire. 

My kids have often sadly commented that we can’t turn our dogs into vampires so that they can be with us longer.

Note: A dog turned into a vampire would not be a Werewolf Dog. We all know that. Werewolves and their dogs are an entirely different matter.

~ 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!

Short Story Sunday: Witching

Sophia hated October. The closer Halloween came the more all of the wanna-be witches came out of the woodwork like so many Stevie Nicks fans dancing around in their long flowing black frocks. It made Sophia cringe.

Being a real witch wasn’t always easy these days, especially with all of the misinformation, myths, and stereotypes.

“Thinking about Stevie Nicks again?”

Sophia looked over at her cat. “Unfortunately yes.”

“I know how her music gives you headaches dear. Try not to think about it, or her witchy wanna-be fans,” said Virgil the cat.

“Thanks Virg. It isn’t just the stupid music connection and the flowing black dresses. It is the way they try to do spells and act like we’re all in some goddess infused mania. I’m an individual damn it. I’m not a cliché. I can do magic. I AM magic.”

“They’re just having fun,” said Virgil the cat. “Deep breath Sophia, deep breath.”

That cat licked his forearm rubbed his face then continued. “Just think of cats this time of the year. Every other girl is trying to be a sexy kitty with silly cat ears and tails. And those poor zombies. They’ve got a serious medical condition and people are making fun of them by dressing up in rags and staggering around like drunks. Don’t even get me started on the bull shit vampires have to deal with. The fake blood is enough to make them want to go on a feeding frenzy just to make it stop.”

Sophia rubbed Virgil under his neck. “Thanks sweetie. I know. I know. I shouldn’t be so sensitive. It is all just for fun. It still bugs me.”

“On a good note,” said Virgil, “people are going to dress up as something really scary.”

“What is that?” Sophia couldn’t imagine what the cat would say now.

“Politicians. Big elections coming up right after Halloween.”

Sophia felt a cold chill that gave her the shivers right down to her bones. “You have a point there Virg. Awwww man, I can deal with witches. I don’t even want to imagine those political ghouls.”

Virgil rubbed his head against Sophia’s arm.

“It isn’t easy being different baby,” said Virgil. “But you’re doing great. It’s Halloween. We’ll have fun tonight.”

Sophia poured a big bag of candy into the pumpkin shaped bowl. The neighborhood streets would be full of tiny monsters, princesses, kitties, and witches. That was a good thing. She’d make sure to send them all home with a safety spell and good dreams of a safe world and a future where they could make a difference for good.

~ end

Tangled Tales

Weirder Tales

Coming later this month from WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants) Weirder Tales – an Omnibus of Odd Ditties.Weirder Tales

Featuring weird tales from: Benedict, Cooley, Daniels, Fletcher, Garcia, Guettler, Haberfelner, Hunter, Kemp, Kings, Lamb, Merline, Nocera, Roland, Todd, Turley, and White.

There is still time to get your own coveted Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe poster while supplies last. Click here for more information.

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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. WPaD books are available worldwide in paperback and ebook. For more information, please visit our website: http//wpad.weebly.com

To see more of Jason’s art at (J Harrison Kemp, Tenkara Studios) and contact information go to:

https://www.facebook.com/tenkarastudios/

https://tenkarastudios.weebly.com

 

~ Juliette Kings aka Vampire Maman
and Marla Todd aka Regular Mom