The List (A Halloween Story…sort of)

Halloween candy
Olive oil (the good kind, domestic, don’t get the cheap stuff)
Toothpicks
Gin
Garlic stuffed olives
Fresh basil
Red bell peppers (2)
Green bell (2)
Apples
Pasta (nothing flat. Get a shape.)
Bleach
Rubber Gloves
paper towels
Large plastic garbage bags
Matches

Lighter fluid
Drain cleaner

Stop by the hardware store and pick up some drop clothes, duck tape, a couple of hacksaw blades (to fit the old blue handle), Rat poison (the kind in the little green blocks) and a 50 pound bag of lime.
Love you. xoxox thanks.

Eric looked at the grocery list his wife had given him. Sometimes he asked her about the lists but he knew she’d get mad. Then he wondered if it was Duck Tape or Duct Tape. Was Duck Tape a brand. His daughter had talked about making a prom dress out of duck tape. Then he wondered who his wife was going to kill this time.

She was landscaping the yard. They were grilling a lot. She was going to paint the bathrooms. She had a list of people she thought the world would be better off without.

He thought of the box of newspaper articles his wife had kept. One was about a Girl Scout in troop 455 who had died when she fell into a pit toilet on a camping trip. His wife had been part of troop 455. One article was about a fifteen year old girl who’d vanished on a trip to the lake. Another was about a young man, a promising high school foot ball player, who lost his legs when a metal bookshelf in the library fell on him – a shelf that had been previously bolted to the wall in a section about ancient history that was rarely visited, except by this one boy who was a young scholar in Greek and Roman history. And yet another article was about a girl who vanished after going to the rest room at Senior Ball – the same year his wife was a senior in high school. One newspaper article, which was folded about twenty times, was about a college student, at the same university his wife attended, who was found strangled to death with a guitar string in the college library basement. He wasn’t wearing pants. The final article was about a woman his wife used to work for. She’d jumped out of the 5th floor of a building they’d been working in. On the way down she hit two people on the ground. All three died. Nobody knew why she’d jumped. She was known as rising star in her field and up for a promotion. After the funeral his wife took over her boss’s job.

Then he remembered that his eleven year old son told him not to get any gross Halloween candy in case they had left overs.

Eric was shaken out of his thoughts when his phone vibrated. There was a text from is wife.

Working late. But I think I’m getting the VP job. Have a feeling Bob might be going away. xoxox

He’d pick up some flowers on the way home too, just to keep his wife in a good mood.

 

~ end

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Tangled Tales

 

Short Story Sunday: Conversion

Conversion
(An Austin and Elizabeth Story)

“Durant, we found something.”

“What do you mean you found something?”

“Live dead bodies.”

“Vampires?”

“Yes, vampires. Happy fucking Halloween.”

“I’ll be right there.”

Austin Durant had planned on spending the morning grading papers. When he wasn’t teaching history at the local state college he was a contractor specializing in restoring historic buildings. When he wasn’t doing that he was a vampire hunter. The vampire hunter part wasn’t planned. It just happened.

Now a call from his construction site foreman Matt changed his Sunday morning plans. Damn. He made a call and headed out.

His attorney and friend (the term friend was sometimes questionable) Aaron Todd stood on the front porch. How could anyone always look so elegant, even in jeans and a fleece jacket?

“Why don’t you people take care of your own?”

“You people? Really Austin. You sound almost racist.”

“You’re a vampire.”

“The ones in the walls are not my people.”

Aaron had a point. He was an attorney and lived in a beautiful modern house, with a beautiful wife who looked like she was right out of a Botticelli painting.  Aaron had nothing in common with the dried up husks with long yellow teeth and claw like fingers who were hibernating in the old walls.

Aaron was holding a pink box. “I brought donuts and coffee for your guys. It was the least I could do.”

“Thank you. The good kind,” said Austin, looking at the beautiful assortment of donuts, sweet rolls and bear claws. “Do you ever eat these things?”

“No. They make me sick.”

They waked back to the small bricked in room where the vampires had been found. The 8 x 8 foot space had been bricked in from the inside.

Aaron looked down at the still dead looking forms. “I know those two. I’d wondered what had happened to them. Not that I cared. I was glad to see them gone. The last time I saw them was this time of year. My wife Verity and I were downtown late at night and spotted these two on the steps of the new Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.”

“New?”

“It was 1890.” Aaron smiled and sipped his coffee. “They watched us with empty eyes coveting our existence. These two in the walls are creatures with no souls. They exist with nothing but longing for blood. They have no idea what the empty void is that fills them. That is why they wall themselves up to sleep for years. They know no torment. They feel no longing. They exist and that is all.

These two had come out to California to seek their fortunes right after the Civil war, like so many uneducated dullards. They were both pretty enough and young enough that they made a living selling their bodies. They were stupid enough to be seduced by evil. They forfeited their souls for eternal life. Either that or the idiots who converted them botched the job and only brought them back after their bodies were empty of any life at all. It doesnt matter. They might not even have had souls to begin with. They were the kind of people who just survive and nothing else. Their lives have no meaning.”

“You’re harsh.”

“I am realistic.”

“You saw them on the cathedral steps. You were going to tell me something about them.”

“It two days before Christmas, they sat on the steps huddled together. I was going to approach them and tell them to leave town, when a priest came out into the dark and sat with them. We could hear what he said. I’ll never forget.”

Aaron took a deep breath as if he was almost human. “It was obvious they had been there before. The priest made a sign of the cross then put his hands on their shoulders and said, those who are loved will earn their souls. It is not in the scripture but I believe it. I know it. You are loved. Believe me. Believe my brother and sister.

Austin was amazed at what the vampire told him. “Do you believe that Aaron?”

“I want to, but no, I do not believe it.”

Austin knew vampires were cold hearted but he assumed that maybe… then again, when it came to the heart of a vampire assumptions were dangerous.

“By the way,” said Aaron, “the good priest was found dead a week later. His body had been drained of all blood. Funny how things work out that way.”

They looked down at the corpse-like vampires who lay on an ancient cot, huddled together in a cold embrace. Their old fashioned clothes still showed some color through the dusty and faded threads.

Austin raised the chain saw and was about to start it up when the male opened his eyes. It sounded like paper shredding. The woman did the same.

“Do it now,” hissed Aaron.

Austin started the chainsaw and cut off their heads.

He looked up and saw writing on the wall scrawled in what could have been blood above the cot.

We no not wat we do

“We know not what we do,” Austin read out loud.

In the curled up clawed hand of the woman Austin found a small carved figure of a baby in a manger. The paint looked almost new.

In the hand of the man was a holly branch.

“Those were gifts from the priest,” said Aaron.

The bodies turned to dust before their eyes.

“Aaron, what do you want to do with the ashes?”

“You have a shop vac don’t you?”

“Man, you’re cold. No pun intended.”

Aaron shrugged. Austin put the baby in his pocket and gave the dried holly branch to Aaron.

“Maybe I should believe,” said Aaron.

Austin put his hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Maybe you should.”

 

~ end

Tangled Tales

For more Austin and Elizabeth adventures CLICK here.

What happens when a History Professor/Restoration Expert/Player followed the footsteps of his Granny and becomes a Vampire Hunter? He discovers basements full of undead creatures, a thriving community of hip and trendy Modern Vampires, and the maybe love of his life (who just happens to be a Vampire.)

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: House by the Ocean

220px-Sir_Galahad_(Watts)

“My parents were sluts, both of them. I’m the last person to throw stones but my dad was sleeping with the Queen, his best friend’s wife, and my mom lied about everything she ever did in her life.”

“Don’t be hard on them Galahad. Lancelot might not have been the best father but, well, he was a shitty father, and your mother Elenore, well, lied about everything. I think her lies were more of survival mode thing. You know, fight or flight, and by sleeping with your father it was her way of fighting for what she wanted. As for Guinevere, I have no good feelings for that woman or your father. They played the victim card far too often and at the expense of people who loved them. But that said, none of this reflects on you. Don’t ever let yourself think that you are your parents.”

Galahad, all of nineteen, Knight of the Round table had spent the past year traveling in search of the Holy Grail and all that was good. He was pure of heart and body, but there were questions that ate away at his soul. The very idea of his parents bugged him to no end. The contradictions of the Christian faith and his search, with magic, wizards, fairies, and the laws of nature confounded him.

Galahad had come to the estate on the hill that overlooked the ocean. He thought one day someone will write a song about this place. He wanted to wash away all of his critical mistakes.

He’d been drawn to the direction of the place when he’d come to a fork in the road, and even more so when he heard the crashing waves of the ocean.

A man with pale blonde hair, and a goblet of wine in his hand, who looked to be Galahad’s age answered the door. He invited him in, already knowing who he was. The man introduced himself as Tellias. His accent was different but yet slightly familiar. Maybe at one time Tellias had lived in Rome or somewhere South that Galahad could only dream of. Oh to live near the Holy Lands.

“Galahad. My friend Druce, who just happens to be sort of a wizard predicted you’d be here this week. As for me, I can’t predict shit. Come in and join us. We have a warm bed, and even a fire in your room. I take you can read. We have some books we thought you’d be interested. My God I can’t believe that nobody can read anymore. One day I’m sure someone will label this moment in history The Dark Ages. Oh how they embrace ignorance and fear.”

And from there Galahad was brought into a warm and inviting room unlike any he’d ever been to. The walls were covered with weavings, paintings, and shelves full of beautiful pottery the likes of which he had never seen.

There he met Morcant, and exceptionally handsome man who was built like an ancient God. He also met Druce, a Warlock that Merlin had told him about. Druce was an average man of average height, but he had a warm smile, unlike most men of magic. Galahad had been told that Druce could be trusted and was wise with matters of the heart and soul.

Standing by the window, with the summer breeze in her long curls was a beautiful girl with a smile that melted his heart unlike any other girl he had ever met. Her name was Eleora. It turned out that she was the beloved of Tellias and his mate for life.

During food and wine Galahad told his new friends of his quest for the Holy Grail and how there had been a prophesy about Joseph and so much more. He also told them of his travels and brave deeds that left him feeling good but sort of shallow.

Then Tellias asked Galahad, “But something is missing, isn’t it? Tell me about your family. It’s complicated isn’t it?”

Eleora sat next to Galahad and took his hand in hers. Her hand was cold like winter ice, but a warmth spread through his entire body.

And he told them things he had never told another living human being. He told them about his mothers, his father, and the complicated and twisted relationships they’d centered their lives around. He told them of a somewhat lonely childhood spend in reflective prayer and study.

They all listened. It was wonderful. Nobody had ever really listened to him before. He had just listened to others then done his duty.

After he and Tellias had talked of his family, Galahad said, “You and Eleora seem so young. You’re young like me, yet you seem so old, in a wise and wonderful way.”

Nobody said a thing for a while, then Morcant said, “Are you going to tell him Tellias? Eleora?”

“We’re Vampires,” said Eleora gently putting her hand on Galahad’s cheek, then she stood and walked over to where Tellias sat.

“What are Vampires?” Asked Galahad.

“We drink the blood of men. We live a long long time, longer than men. Some say forever. I was here before the Romans came.”

“I was one of the Romans,” said Tellias. “I was there when Christ was born. I was there when he died.”

Galahad looked at them in shock.

“Oh get over yourself. It isn’t that bad. We’re biologically different from you. Put it this way, if we were animals I’d be a horse, and men would be asses.”

“Most men are asses after all,” said Eleora.

“Like you Eleora is pure of heart. She just doesn’t have the physical hang ups,” said Tellias.

Galahad looked at Morcant. Maybe he was a normal man.

Morcant shrugged. “I’m a Selkie. You know what a Selkie is, I’m sure you do. I turn into a seal when I want to, you know, when I get tired of people.”

“Fear not,” said Druce the Warlock. “There is no evil here. Only good. In fact, you might not know it but that cup you’re drinking out of. THAT my son is the Holy Grail.”

Galahad blinked a few times and fainted.

2018

The Dark Ages didn’t always seem so dark when Galahad thought about them. He looked out of his back window over Monterey Bay. California hadn’t even been a dream back then. On the mantle over the fireplace was a simple silver cup. There was no power in it except it had been used in the name of love. How he wished the world had more love in it, but maybe one day.

Legend had it that he’d found the Grail and gone to heaven with Joseph. Instead he’d chosen to live, for a long long long time as a Vampire. Funny how things worked out.

Tellias and Eleora and Druce were coming for a visit and would be there soon. Morcant had passed on years before in the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. It had broken his heart. He had become great friends with the Selkie.

But now he did have his house by the ocean. He didn’t worry about critical mistakes because he knew love, and had spent the centuries doing good. It was his way, even as a Vampire, for his heart, as always had stayed pure. And most of all, he realized that in their own weird and twisted way his parents had loved him.

~ End

For another tale of Druce and Morcant Click Here.

Tangled Tales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Fall Garden

I’m at Sacramento 2018 WordCamp this weekend. In fact I’m speaking today. But fall is in the air so is post-summer, pre-winter gardening. The following was first posted here a year ago. Hope this gets you into the festive falling leaves, pumpkin spice, and falling acorns kind of mood. I’ll see you next Sunday with Tangled Tales Short Story.

fallcolorleaves

Fall Garden

So I’m digging away, trying to put in some sort of flower beds in my rocky garden. It is foggy. It is cold. And I am not amused. That is what happens when you live in a house built on gold mine tailings. Rocks. Nothing but river rocks coated in a tiny bit of dirt and a shit load of weed seeds.

I’ve got the pick ax out, and I’m jamming the shovel in a hole, with the cold nose of a ninety pound German Shepard in my face, when I FINALLY get the last rock loose before I can plant a small dwarf lime tree. The dog goes nuts. I push her away and pull out the rock.

It isn’t a rock.

It is a skull.

A human skull.

Shit.

My son comes out with a fresh cup of coffee for me (did I mention it was cold.) He looked at the skull and then calls up to the house.

“Hey Dad, she found another one.” Then he turns to me. “This one is small. Man, woman, or child?”

I toss the skull in my garden gloved hands. “It might be a woman but you never know.”

“Want me to put it with the others?”

“Sure,” I said, handing the skull to my sweet teenager.

I could hear him in the side yard opening the 50 gallon Rubbermaid storage container, and dropping in the skull.

He came back to me after about a minute. “Hey Mom, the container is almost full.”

I took a deep breath. “That’s a lot of skulls.”

He gave me an uncomfortable look. “It sure is. Who do you think they are?”

I put my arm around his waist and gave him a hug. “I have no idea. But thanks for the coffee sweetie. Let’s go in. I think I’m done out here today.”

 

~ End

 

Short Story Sunday: I’ll Take Care of You

Tangled Tales

I’ll Take Care of You

The headache was real. He opened his eyes and squinted at the sun coming through the window and tried to remember what had happened the night before.

“Oh you’re up. Look at the sunlight. Tell me how you feel.”

“Like I’ve been hit by a truck.”

“Do you feel alive?”

He looked at her sitting in a navy blue wingback chair wearing nothing but a smile and black silk stockings held up by red garters. He thought of her as a girl, not from her age but by the way she acted. She had been cute for a while but the cuteness became annoying and practiced.

He got out of bed and looked for his robe. She watched him with a smile on her face that was part wonder and part greed. Memories started to come back. Against his better judgement he’d taken her home and to his bed. Then she’d poured something she said was wine, but it obviously wasn’t.

“What did we drink last night?”

“What did you drink Andrew darling. I gave you an elixir to life. I gave you a tonic of love. I gave you light and love?”

He didn’t even respond. The sooner he got her out of his house and made coffee the better. Finding his robe he headed to the kitchen.

“Do you feel different?” She got up and followed him down the stairs.

“Other than feeling like shit?”

“Today is your new birthday. You’re mortal again.”

It suddenly occurred that she’d given him some sort of potion. “Jen, I can’t be cured. There was nothing wrong with me.”

“You were a Vampire.”

“I’m still a Vampire.”

“You’re walking in the sunlight. See it comes through the windows and you aren’t burning.”

“I’ve always been able to walk in the sunlight. Whatever you gave me didn’t work. It never works anymore than me giving you something that would turn you into a dog.”

“Give me a chance and I’ll take care of you Andrew,” she said clutching at his arms.

He pried off her hands and whispered under his breath, “Yes, and I’ll make sure to take care of you.”

Escorting her to the door, the Vampire told her to not come back – but he knew she’d try. Jen never took no for an answer. He compared her to a bad rash, that is if he’d ever had a bad rash.

Nobody would believe her tall tales of dating a Vampire. She was a groupie, a fan, a follower who didn’t know how to be an adult or find real love. It wasn’t like he always knew how to find real love, but at least he wasn’t going to let anyone change him for it.

Picking up the phone he made a call. “You know, I really don’t have the stomach for killing her right now. Any suggestions?”

His friend paused on the other end of the line then said, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of her.”

After getting off the phone Andrew made a blood and strawberry smoothie hoping it would clear out some of the toxic effects of whatever the Hell Jen had given him.

Jen told everyone her family had always been around Vampires, kind of sort of, but she’d just discovered her ability to pick them out about 10 years ago. She’d clamped onto Andrew about a year back after seeing him sing with one of her favorite bands at a local club. She’d spotted him and found out all of the details about his life through mutual friends. Her immaturity was charming at first and kind of cute but now it just grated on Andrew. He ran his hands through his hair and wondered why he’d brought her home last night. Oh right, blood and sex. That always does it.

Then again, Jen thought life should be a cross between a Doris Day/Rock Hudson movie and Twilight. Holy crap. The woman was delusional.

Jen sat alone in her San Francisco apartment and thought about her beautiful Vampire lover. Giggling at the thought of his cool skin and hot kisses and wonderful techniques as a lover. He knew all the tricks. She imagined living with him in his beautiful St. Francis Woods home.

Last night she’d offered him not just her body but her blood as well. Last of all she offered her heart. As far as she was concerned that was a sealed deal. She was part of him now. He’d never get rid of her.

A year passed and Andrew had all but forgotten about that night with Jen. Occasionally one of his friends would bring up the story of the toxic brew and laugh about it.

“Don’t laugh, it could have ruined my voice,” Andrew would tell them half serious and half joking.

“What ever happened to her?” They would always ask. Andrew would just shrug.

A hundred miles away, locked in a room with no sharp objects Jen sat rocking on the bed speaking of her Vampire lover and how he’d return for her. Andrew said something under his breath about taking care of her. So she waited not knowing that he already taken care of her, quite nicely.

 

~ End

 

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Writing on the Wall

Every house I’ve ever lived in as an adult has had writing on the wall. It’s usually phone numbers in the garage next to the automatic sprinkler controls, or labels in the pantry closet, or construction notes. I’ve lived in a couple of places that had backs of closets illustrated by children who are now senior citizens.

Earlier this week my husband Steve and I started painting the walls in our family room and breakfast nook. We’re doing a major decorative remodel. Think “Property Brothers” or something along those lines. As he pulled out screws that previous owners used to hang some large pieces of art or maybe a giant fish or something.

Anyway, a large piece of plaster fell off of the wall. Steve swore something under his breath using the words “fuck” and “damn.” He called me over.

“Look at this honey. What do you think?”

On the wall these words were scrawled in black ink: I killed Heather Marie Larkin. She was a bitch and deserved to die. Her body is buried under the house. JKR 1989.

“Do you think it’s true?” I asked Steve.

“I don’t know. It could be a joke. Have you ever heard of Heather Marie Larkin?”

“I don’t know. It sounds sort of familiar. I’ll look it up.”

The Internet was all over Heather Marie Larkin. She’d been twenty-four years old, a recent college graduate, engaged to a brilliant law student named Ted LaRue. From the comments it looked like the Heather wasn’t well liked. Not just because of her spectacular good looks and charmed life, but for the fact she was a horrible person. Heather Marie Larkin was the girl who got away with everything. If anyone was in her way they would fall – and fall hard.

One night in 1989 Heather vanished and was never seen or heard from again. No clues. No suspects. Nothing. JKR was Joanna Katrina Randolph. She married Ted LaRue two years after Heather vanished. Her parents had built the house in 1982.

Steve said, “You know if she is buried under our house we’ll never be able to sell it. The press will be all over the place. This will always be known as a murder house. Those true crime people will be all over the place, looking in our windows and trying to bug us about things, not to mention the ghost hunters.”

“Good point,” I said.

“Glad you agree. Hand me the paint brush sweetie.”

And I did.

~ end.