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

Captain Sandy and the Airship at the End of the World

(Published as author Marla Todd)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I told him and he just shook his head.

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

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

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

“Why are you alone Captain?”

“I’m not.”

“No wife or children?”

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

“So you’re alone,” I said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ End

Tangled Tales

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

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

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

Books by WPaD:

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

WPaD books are available worldwide in paperback and ebook editions.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Morcant and the Mermaid

Morcant and the Mermaid

Druce held out his arm while his friend Morcant cleaned and bandaged the wounds. “I was out fishing on the rocks. She’d been coming there to meet me for the past few months. At first she’d just poke her head out of the water and look at me for a bit then swim away. After the third or fourth time I got her to come closer. She spoke to me in our language. Sure, her voice was sort of high and irritating but I got used to it.”

“No wonder you’d been fishing so much lately. What did she look like?”

“Bright sea blue eyes, hair the color of a new spring leaf, and skin iridescent like a pearl. I’ve seen pearls Morcant, I know that beauty.  And speaking of beautiful round objects, her breasts were perfect, tipped with spectacular blue nipples.”

“That is all a fine fantasy but below the waist she’s a fucking fish.”

“Warm like a dolphin.”

“You didn’t. No. Tell me you didn’t.”

“Just a kiss, on salt touched lips.”

“Then she nearly ate your arm. What is wrong with you Druce?”

“I didn’t expect her to bite me.”

“Did she give you her name?”

“Pook.”

“Bloody great. I know her. Nothing but trouble that one.”

“I’m sure it was just an accident or a misunderstanding.”

“No. She intended to drag you down to her home and eat you, or worse. Druce, for a Warlock you can be insanely gullible when it comes to a pretty face and a pair of tits. I’ll make you some healing tea so you won’t end up with arm rot or some other disgusting Mermaid crud.”

Morcant made the brew for his friend then tucked him into bed and headed towards the beach.

Being a Selkie, Morcant knew all about the charms of women. They couldn’t resist him. That was the way of Selkies. But there was also something about Druce that women liked. He wasn’t the tallest or the most handsome man in the village, but he had a boyish charm females loved. Maybe it was his bright eyes, quick smile, or those dimples, or even the messy sun streaked hair. It could even have been the fact that he was the keeper of magic. Who knows. Maybe it was his sense of humor. All of that considered, Druce couldn’t keep it under his tunic and was always having troubles with women.

Upon arriving at the shore Morcant drew the seal skin from his shoulders and wrapped it around his entire body. His toes touched the salt water and he turned into a seal. That is what Selkies do. They are seals in the ocean, and on the land they carry their seal skins and walk as humans. They’re remarkably attractive in their human form. Unfortunately if someone steals the skin of a Selkie then they can hold the Selkie as their slave. But that last fact is neither here nor there for this story.

Morcant the seal dove down deep into the ocean. He knew where to go. He knew where the Merfolk lived.

When he saw Pook with her green hair and blue tipped breasts he grabbed her hair in his mouth and dragged her up to the surface of the ocean.

Letting go of her hair Morcant showed his large seal teeth to Look.

“You’re such an attractive seal,” she said to him in her tiny voice. “Sooooooo attractive. My tail has an itch that only a Selkie Seal can scratch.”

Morcant growled a low seal growl. “You nearly killed my friend. You have no business perusing Druce and making him fall in love with you. You’re not a human woman and have no business with him.”

Pook grinned at him showing her pointed teeth. She reminded Morcant of a shark. “What will you give me to keep away?”

Morcant grabbed Pook by the hair again and spoke between his seal teeth. “I will drag you to the beach and then give you to men who will put you in a cage and drag you across the land. People will pay to see you and look at you in horror as your lovely skin dries up, and then you become nothing but a piece of dried salted cod. THAT is what I will give you.”

Pulling her hair away Pook screamed a high pitched scream that would break glass then swam off.

Later, in human form, Morcant checked in on his friend Druce. The Warlock was sleeping soundly.

The sound of the waves lulled Morcant into a slumber filled with dreams of calm oceans, and warm human women.

At the bottom of the sea the Mermaids sang their high pitched songs while they drank their brew out of polished shells. Pook brushed off her pride and picked out a Merman to share the night with. She thought of Druce and his adorable dimples, and sun kissed hair. Her heart fluttered a bit and she felt oddly in love with the man with legs. Then again, what would she do with legs? She had no idea, so she swam into the night, tending her broken heart, in the arms of her new Merman lover.

~ end

Tangled Tales

For more about Morcant and Druce CLICK HERE.

You might have seen this story last summer. As we all know things have been hot, and sad, and unsafe, and uncertain lately so I wanted to share a little mermaid lore to maybe help you relax a bit and maybe smile a bit (even if it is under a mask).

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: The Last Time

The Last Time

by Richard Turton  

I have no recollection of anything specific we spoke of that day. I’m sure the weather was involved because we always spoke of the weather in Georgia. He gave me words of advice, I’m sure, because that’s what he always did when he was going somewhere longer than overnight. His words soft, sweet, gentle.

More than once in the last few days, I’d seen him looking at the triangular walnut case on the mantle. There was a picture beside the flag, a man he’d never met; a picture of his father, my husband, in his Army dress uniform, strong, proud. A smaller picture, stuck in the corner of the frame, corners curling, fading. My husband, seated on a row of sandbags at some nameless firebase in Viet Nam.

Conversation quietly came to a comfortable close; neither of us wanting to talk of the actual matter.

He pushed his breakfast plate aside. Looking at it one last time, eyes smiling but sad, knowing, “I always liked those plates, Ma, with the barn and the cows and the bright yellow & green edges.

Reaching across, I found his hand and squeezed it. His hands were callused, course and rough and scratchy from too many summers in the fields. I tried to smile, but my tears spilled over, tracing my feelings down my cheeks. I turned away quickly and pulled the hanky from my sleeve as I tried to wipe away the sadness.

The sun was fully up now. He stood, pushing back his chair. Looking at me, smiling, he said, “I reckon I’d better be goin’; that bus’ll be along any minute. And you know ole’ Bob; he don’t wait for no one.”  He reached down and picked up his yellow and green cup and finished off his coffee. “I think I’m gonna’ miss this most Ma. You always make the best coffee.”

As I stood, I reached into the pocket of my apron and said, “It’s the chicory, Donny, takes the bite off. Here, I packed a little bag of it for you!” and gave him a little hand sewn bag stuffed with ground chicory.

As he took the bag, his hands held mine for just a moment longer. Then he looked down at his highly polished shoes and said quietly, “Thanks, Ma, thanks for everything. I love you.”

I stepped in closer and hugged him tight, “I love you too, Donny. Always remember that.” He reached around me engulfing me in those strong arms of his and hugged me back, this time just a little longer than usual.  Abruptly, he stepped back and reached for his Dress Green Jacket and put it on. He put on the soft dress cap the Army gave him, picked up his duffle bag and slung it over his shoulder.

As he reached the doorway, he rested his hand on the doorjamb. He looked at the old, weathered wood with all the pencil marks on it showing his progress in growing up to get to this day.  He turned and looked around again, gathering it all in like he was photographing the scene in his mind. Smiling a little once again, he gave a half wave, said, “G’bye, Ma”, walked out the door, and let the screen door slam once more.

That’s when we knew.

 

~ end

 

Tangled Tales

 

Richard Turton is a Viet Nam veteran living in Northern California. He has contributed two other pieces to this blog: The Eagle Cried and A Ghost Story.

I met Rick through his son who was my daughter’s 4th grade teacher. Rick is a member of the WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants) and has contributed to the group’s themed anthologies.

I am truly honored to feature “The Last Time” today, on Mother’s Day. Thank you so much Rick. Your words are beautiful and timely.

Aside from writing such beautiful words, Rick is one of the funniest people I know.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Remains

Remains

By Soleil Daniel

The world was ending, so I don’t really blame everyone for leaving with the Space Squids when they came to Earth and offered a new planet to live on. They’ll probably just destroy that one too. It’s whatever, people fucking suck anyway. By what I could tell, the Space Squids weren’t so special either with their weird, soft bodies, tentacles, and strange pointy heads.

Yeah, I said tentacles. I don’t call ‘em Space Squids for fun. Besides the fact that they didn’t live in water, that’s pretty much what they were.

They did moisturize . . . a lot. Like all the time. It was kind of obscene, but that’s a story for a different day.

Like I was saying, the Space Squids, yeah, assholes. That’s what they were. Just as bad as all the humans they took. Maybe they ate everyone . . . well, one could only hope, but considering the fact that they left the ‘trash’ humans behind and they wanted to only take productive, non-criminal folks, I assume they weren’t planning to eat them. Unless us ‘trash’ humans taste bad. I’ll just keep thinking they ate everyone and be happy with the fact that they didn’t want my kind to go.

I still don’t see how I fit in with the others they left behind—The Remains the Squiddies called us. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they didn’t throw me into the volcanoes like they did the leaders and politicians of the world. Oh, they made sure that shit was broadcasted on live television. You ask me, some of those fuckers got out too easily and quickly for the things they got away with.

What was I saying? Oh, yeah. Those Squiddies left me behind, saying murderers weren’t welcome on their planet. Blah, blah. Yeah, I’ve killed, but I’m no murderer. I deal out justice. I take out the ‘trash’ that they accused me of being. I tried to clean up the world and rid it of the people who were making it a bad place to live. Taking out people who destroyed nature for the hell of it, who killed for the enjoyment of it, who took pleasure from the touch of a child, and those who deemed themselves better than others, making sure the lives of those they found to be lesser than them was full of hardship, grief, and sorrow.

I’m not sure how many I had the pleasure of disposing of, but I know I didn’t stop after everyone left. I didn’t even have to do as much research once they were gone, so really, they did mea favor. They made my job easier.

 

***

 

Thomas looked around at his captors. Their hair in mudded clumps. Their round cherubic faces, holding expressions of anything but innocence. No, all of the children that surrounded him looked upon him like a wolf eyeing a rabbit it wished to have for dinner.

“You tell your lies. You act as if you were doing this world a favor, killing people you decided weren’t good enough to live. Who were you to judge when you killed our parents?” one of the oldest males visible within the group said, surprising Thomas for he’d not expected such feral-looking children to be able to speak so well.

“Well, I . . . uh, shit. I didn’t know there were children still left here. At least none old enough to have been around for the Great Departure. I thought they all went with the Squiddies. Who in their right mind would’ve kept their children here?”

“People who didn’t want to be separated from their families. People who knew that once the majority left, the planet would begin to heal. People who didn’t trust the aliens, and so they didn’t go, even if they were accepted to go to the new world,” said another of the eldest as she stepped forward.

A girl and boy, who looked so similar there was no mistaking that they were brother and sister, came closer to Thomas. They appeared to be about seven, meaning they were born sometime around The Great Departure, Thomas noted.

“We were five when you killed our father,” the little girl said.

“He was all we had. Our mom didn’t make it through having us,” the boy continued where his sister left off.

“We saw you. We watched from the brush. We saw what you did.” The girl grabbed her brother’s hand and squeezed.

“We watched as you broke his legs, making escape impossible. We listened as you listed his supposed crimes. We choked back our sobs, our cries, as you drew your knife across our father’s throat.” The boy straightened his posture, standing as tall as he could.

“Then, you left him there to rot. You walked away from him like he was nothing. What you did was wasteful. You kill but for what reason? There’s no purpose in what you do.” The girl had begun to tremble, but not in fear or grief. The girl’s body shook with rage, if Thomas was correct in his thinking.

“I would’ve never killed him or any of your parents had I known they’d had children that had no one else to care for them. Know this to be the truth. Know this, as I only wish to end the suffering, hate, greed, and filthiness in this world. Know that I only wish to make things better. I never meant to cause harm. I only wished to deal out justice.” Thomas wiggled his arms, struggling against the ropes that bound him.

“Justice! Justice? There’s no need for justice in a lawless land, sir. You have no authority. You are far worse than any criminal you believe you’ve dealt your justiceto. For you think you are better than they were.” A girl, older than the rest, Thomas had not seen until that moment, walked over to him, clutching a knife in her dirt-covered hand.

“Now, just wait a second. What is it you’re planning on doing with that knife? How do you figure killing me makes you any better? It certainly won’t bring your folks back. Not that it appears you need them. The lot of you seemed to be doing just fine without them. Y’all have got to be some of the plumpest people I’ve seen in a while.”

“We do well with the gardens, and we have an excellent group of hunters. You met Ellie and Niro. They’re our absolute best. You’d agree, I’m certain, that they’d need to be top-notch to track and capture you. You who prides yourself on tracking and hunting people down. I assume as you’ve been up to these tricks since before the ‘Great Departure’, as you put it.” The teenage girl tapped him on the tip of his nose with her knife.

“Oh.” Thomas let his gaze focus more on the surrounding area. His eyes took a second to adjust to the darker places where they weren’t completely consumed by the shadows. Mounds of off-white caught his attention, and he stared at them until the bones, skulls, and other human remains became clear. “Oh! You little shits are cannibals!”

“Only when we have to be. We get more meat from a deer than we do most humans. So, unless we absolutely need the meat, we usually leave people alone, but when little Josiah and Penelope here saw you . . . when they recognized you for who you were, well, we couldn’t pass that up.”

Thomas struggled more with his bindings, not even bothering to hide his movements as he’d been doing. He squirmed. His shoulders jerked, and his body bucked, but he couldn’t get free. If anything, the ropes only became tighter on his wrists and around his waist.

“Now, Thomas—it is Thomas, right?” the elder girl with the knife said. When he didn’t answer, she continued, “What you don’t seem to get is, the more you fight your restraints, the more Little William back there will twist. And while we’ve yet to see it happen, you’d have a better chance getting loose after your hands pop off your wrists—well, like I said, we haven’t seen it yet, but I suppose it’s possible. That is, given you don’t pass out from the pressure on your abdomen first. So, by all means, keep trying to free yourself.”

A sinister smile spread across her face as several of the others worked to control fits of laughter.

“Quiet!” a male voice behind Thomas yelled. “Charlotte! Why must you play with your food? It doesn’t need to know why it’s dying. Just kill it and be done with your theatrics. I thought we were good for meat, anyway, so why the need to butcher more?”

“You’re probably right, Jonathan. We shouldn’t play with our food . . . but did you look to see who this is before you spoke?” the knife-wielding girl, Charlotte, said before turning away.

A tall man in his early twenties walked in front of Thomas. “Is this who I think it is?” He bent down, getting face to face with Thomas. “Why, yes. Yes, it is.”

“I assume I killed one of your parents too?” Thomas asked.

“Ah, but you killed both. My father before the aliens took everyone away, and then my mother two years after she’d decided to stay on this planet with the Remains. We were going to go, but when our group was called to board, she changed her mind because she had a bad feeling. I don’t know what happened to those who left, but I know what happened to my mom. And I remember what you told me when you dispatched her,” Jonathan said.

“But dear Thomas here just told us that he never would’ve killed someone had he knew they had kids to take care of. Didn’t you, friend?” Charlotte chortled, but Thomas was unable to see her past Jonathan’s tall frame.

“I wouldn’t have. I certainly wouldn’t have spoken to a child I was leaving an orphan,” he protested, knowing all too well the lies that left his mouth.

He remembered Jonathan. The boy was fifteen, maybe sixteen, when Thomas killed his mother. He’d followed her from a rundown pharmacy, where he’d seen her take dozens of prescription bottles. It was later that he’d found they were only antibiotics.

“Don’t follow in her footsteps, boy, or I’ll come back for you.” Jonathan’s words echoed the ones that ran through Thomas’ mind. The young man’s voice bringing him back to the present. “Yeah, I see it in your face. You remember. What you might not know is, the antibiotics that you killed my mom for taking, they were for my little sister. She was four. She’d gotten a cut on her foot, and it was infected. Without my mom, without those antibiotics . . . well, it got worse. Gangrene set in. By the time I found help, even the amputation of her leg didn’t save her. I had to watch her die, all because you thought my mom was a fucking junkie.”

“I didn’t know.” Thomas tried to look disgusted with himself, but somewhere along the way, he’d lost his morals, his reasoning, and he’d began killing people for the enjoyment of it. The one kid was right about it being a lawless land, and Thomas had taken advantage of that, but he’d felt far from guilty about it. He’d felt powerful . . . well, until a group of filthy, parentless kids captured him and tied him up. He met the eyes of the one named Jonathan and said, “If you feel inclined to kill me for my crimes, might I have a request granted?”

Jonathan smirked. “Well, that would depend on what it is? If it’s a request not to eat you, as much as I’d rather not, we don’t waste what can sustain us. Had we still had pigs, you’d go to them, but the entire drove became diseased a while back and died. So, that request will be denied, but you can ask, and I’ll consider anything else.”

“Jonathan!” Charlotte screeched.

“He shouldn’t be given the dignity of a request,” the young boy sibling said.

“He didn’t give our father or your mother or any of the others’ parents time to speak, let alone a request,” his sister sounded, barely letting her brother’s words end.

A mass of murmurs and angry words flew about the night air. Thomas stopped himself from smiling for the commotion he’d caused. The ropes twisted more, tightening further at his wrists and around his lower chest.

“Silence!” Jonathan bellowed. “I said the man could ask. Now, let’s let him say his, and we will decide if it will be granted. Thomas, what is it you want?”

Thomas cleared his throat, struggling to breathe with the tightened ropes around him. He wondered if Little William was trying to hurry the job along without the others knowing. “Would it be too much to ask for the ropes to be taken off? I know that most, if not all, of you feel I did your folks wrong, but I ask for just that bit of dignity and compassion.”

Jonathan took a second, giving a brief hmm. As he opened his mouth to say his answer, a mass scream sounded, and Thomas was overwhelmed by bodies hitting him from every direction.

“I’d say that’s a no, Thomas,” Jonathan shouted.

Thomas barely made out the words over the cries of the kids and the ripping sounds from his clothing being torn off him. They were scratching and clawing at his flesh, and it only dawned on him when he felt their teeth biting into his flesh and breaking the skin, they’d planned on starting their feast while his heart was still beating.

“Yep! Definitely a no!” Jonathan’s words sounded so far away. A moment later, his face hovered over Thomas’. “Come on guys, at least make sure it’s dead first. We’re not complete animals.”

Thomas got a brief glimpse of the hammer before it smashed into his face, ending the searing pain he felt as his flesh was ripped from his body.

~ end

Tangled Tales

Links & Bio

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/SoleilDanielsAuthor

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Brokenlyfe

Amazon Author Page:  author.to/SoleilDanielsbooks

Blog:  https://soleildaniels.blogspot.com/

Soleil Daniels is an author from the Central Florida area. She tends to write more on the darker side—including, but not limited to, blood, depravity, and gore. You can also find some sweetness and steam within her works, as well. She’s written short stories ranging from sick and twisted to heartfelt and sweet, and has longer works available and in progress, which include vampires, people in lust, a boogeyman, and a rather large extinct cat. Her works have been featured in anthologies from WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants) and OMP (One Million Project). All of Soleil Daniels’ works can be found on Amazon.

SoleiDaniels

Soleil Daniels

 

A note from Juliette:

Occasionally I come across an author and think it can’t get better than this. Yes, that is how I feel about Soleil Daniels. Her works always delight and amaze me. Her use of words… I have no words except to say I love her writing. I love the way she uses words. I love the way she creates stories that keep the reader RIGHT THERE. Thank you Soleil for sharing Remains with vampiremaman.com

Thank you!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Tangled Tales

Stay safe. Social distance. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Be careful. Contact those who might need extra help or just need to know somebody cares.

Just thinking about stuff, but not really, and a funny story about a Vampire Hunter.

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I was looking through my dusty archives to find something interesting to re-post, re-blog, re-purpose, or you know, not write today.

Given what is going on right now we should all have a lot more done than we have. Novels should be finished. Your entire yard should be re-landscaped. Dogs should be trained and dressed up like great works of arts. You should have painted at least three museum worthy masterpieces. To give him great amounts of credit my husband painted four rooms in our house including the kitchen.

Blogging about grown children is sort of like walking on a tight rope in the wind. That is all I’m going to say about that today.

I spoke to a friend today who sort of mentioned that one day just blends into the next and it is ok if nobody is getting anything done. It is ok. Additional stress is the last thing any of us need right now.

In the meantime I thought you’d like to read an amusing story that might make you smile.

 

Gerald Atkins, Vampire Hunter

“Now take that Gerald Atkins. He was the worst Vampire Hunter I’d ever seen. He could spot them but that was about it.”

“What was wrong with him?” Austin poured Grammy another cup of coffee.

“Oh he thought he was so suave showing up all dressed up like Sam Spade in his over coat and hat, smoking those smelly cigarettes of his.”

Grammy put some half and half in her coffee and continued. “Gerald would do stupid things like show up with holy water he’d gotten from a nun down at the Catholic church. I told him that he’d just as well throw Coca Cola at a Vampire for all the good it would do. I believe he was having sexual intercourse with that nun. Sister Ann was her name. I bet half the babies in that orphanage where hers.”

“They weren’t her children,” said Austin.

“You don’t know that Austin.”

“Oh Grammy.”

“Just let me finish my story. Gerald Atkins was an idiot. He showed up at a party with his detective get up, with his briefcase full of holy water, a cross, and some old spike he carved out of a 2×4 piece of lumber. Of course he had a knife too but I doubt if he ever sharpened it. The man was goddamn lazy if you ask me.

In a back room back away from all of the drug addicts doing their cocaine on the glass top tables Gerald Atkins finds a couple of Vampires hanging out. There’s a male and a female. Mr. Vampire looks like he belongs to one of those hair bands. It was the 80’s you know. Miss Vampire wore a royal blue silk dress with the back open almost down to her butt crack. So Gerald Atkins takes a look at then and throws his holy water at them. It splashes all over Miss Vampire’s expensive dress and does nothing but make a bunch of stains. The Vampires jump all over Gerald’s ass and suck enough blood out of him to almost kill him, but not quite. Then they dump him in a gutter.

He wakes up in the hospital blubbering on about Vampires. The doctors were convinced he had bats in his attic and was full goose bat shit loony, and locked him up in the mental ward for a few days.

Another time he decided he wanted to date a Vampire woman. Gerald Atkins was so stupid thinking he might get lucky before he killed her. He talked her up trying to tell her how beautiful she was in a cool sort of way. She listened to him and beat him to any game he might have been trying to play. He ends up telling her his life story and about all of his pathetic sorry romances except for his diddling Sister Ann. He never dared speak of Sister Ann but everybody knew about them. Everybody.

Then the fool thinks the Vampire woman is falling for him because she is smiling so sweetly and making her eyes go all twinkly and pretty the way Vampires do. That Vampire woman tied Gerald Atkins naked to a bed in a fancy hotel and left him with the bill. She never took a stitch of her clothing off. Just left him there naked as the day he was born with a couple of holes in his neck. Idiot.”

“Is he still hunting Vampires Grammy?”

“Gosh no. Those Vampires got tired of his shenanigans and cut his head off one night. They left him in the Old City Cemetery with his body laid out on a random grave and his head on top to the tombstone.”

“That’s awful,” said Austin.

Grammy shook her head. “Not really Austin. He wasn’t careful or smart like we are. He never did his research. He could tell if someone was a Vampire but he sure didn’t have any talent to hunt them down properly. He gave us all a bad name.”

Austin offered Grammy more coffee. She nodded yes.

“No thanks. I will have another one of those sugar cookies you made. I’ll take two.”

“Do you think you’ll ever hunt Vampire again?” Austin asked his Grammy half joking. Just half.

Grammy took a bite of cookie and thought a bit. Then she smiled at her grandson. “I don’t know. I can’t run like I used to but you never know. They wouldn’t expect an old lady like me now would they.”

Austin just smiled and took a cookie. No they wouldn’t expect anyone like his Grammy. Nobody ever expected Grammy.

~ end

 

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Have fun everyone. I have a new series starting up tomorrow so I’ll see you back here soon. Stay home. Social distance. Wash your hands. Be nice. Think good thoughts. Be creative.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: Goji and the Angel

Diana Author Photo

Diana Garcia

Goji and the Angel

By Diana Garcia

 

Angel Rodriguez did not like it one bit.  She was stuck.  She heard a click as she turned the key and pumped the gas pedal, but nothing happened. So, here she was in the middle of the desert, in the middle of the night.

She sure as hell was not going out there in the dark to look for help. Her cell phone was dead so she would not go out until morning to look for other hikers.

Just go to sleep,she thought.

The the cacophony of night noises made it hard. It was the usual desert sounds she heard late at night but in the comfort of her own bed. Out here, it was different. Packs of passing and yipping howling coyotes, things slithering in the dirt right outside the car, and black shadows flying low and shrieking past her car windows. The Arizona desert was teeming with active night denizens and the hot wind did not dissipate, nor give reprieve, with the setting of the sun. Even with the windows rolled halfway down Angel found it hard to breathe. Sweat dripped into her eyes every time she attempted to close them.

Angel fanned herself with a piece of cardboard as she lay low in the back seat of her car. She gazed out of the rear windshield. The obsidian panorama contributed to her fearful thoughts. Not even stars to calm her terror and anxiety. Where the hell were the stars?Where the fuck is the moon?Oh, there it was, a thin slivered sickle of grayish glow off in the distance peeked out as dark clouds moved on to be replaced by other dark clouds, like a broken neon sign with burnt out bulbs.

Speaking out loud to no one Angel said,

“Okay, that’s enough Angel. Close your eyes and think of good things, shhhhh.”

The calming mantra worked for about two minutes. Now she had to go pee.

“Oh fuck. Do I piss my pants or should I go outside?”

Angel opened the door and slid out of the car to urinate. There was no other choice. She was squatting while with one hand she held her jeans and panties out of the stream’s way, and with the other hand she firmly held onto the door handle. Touching the car gave her a sense of security.

The day before, Angel had been driving in the desolate desert searching for a hidden treasure mapped out on butcher paper given to her by an old injured prospector she and her fellow rescue workers were bringing down the Superstition Mountains. Yes, there were still people searching for the lost Dutchman’s gold in this day and age.  Angel was in the EMT truck setting up the IV for the dehydrated old man who moaned in pain with his eyes closed. He suddenly grabbed her arm and said,

“In my front pocket, dear”

“What did you say, sir?”

“In my front pocket. Get the map.” His tone was urgent but his ragged breathing made him hard to understand. He took long pauses between each word.

Angel reached into the man’s pocket and pulled out a bundle wrapped in faded blue checked cloth and said, “This? You want this, sir?”

The old man held a firm grip on her arm and whispered,

“The fucking gold is NOT in the Superstitions. I buried it about fifteen miles east of here. That’s the map,” he said as he looked at the bundle in Angel’s hand.

“But sir, I don’t want this. Why don’t I put it in your backpack for safe keeping, okay? For when you get out of the hospital.”

“No, dear. You don’t understand, I’m dying. I have lung cancer. I thought I was being followed so I backtracked after burying the gold and took the Peralta Trail back into the mountain to throw the buggers off. I was being followed. I know it.” Angel held the back of his head as he coughed blood into a handful of tissues she held to his mouth.

After he stopped coughing, Angel asked in order to appease the distressed man, “So you want me to use the map and get your gold and bring it to you?”

She was an Arizona native and stories about the Lost Dutchman Mine and treasure was the stuff of campfire storytelling lore, nothing more than that.

The man calmed down, released his hold on Angel’s arm, looked into her eyes and said, “No dear, I want you to get the gold and use it for you and your family. Do big things with it. You saved me from getting killed. I’d rather a good person have it than those buggers,” whispered the man as he closed his eyes.

“But sir, I can’t do that. This is your property. Please. You’ll be fine. You’re just dehydrated. We’ll get you taken care of and you’ll be fine.”

“No. Listen, I’ve been moving that gold around in different parts for sixty years. My grandpa and great grandpa did the same before me. We kept the legend alive. Do you hear me? I was a doctor back in my day. My wife and sons are now long dead. I’m dying. I just can’t keep this up anymore. Please don’t tell anyone. Just let the legend live.”

Angel looked at the man’s pale blue eyes and saw truth and loss there. She nodded and zipped the bundle in her work jacket and continued working on the man as they were driven away into town.

_______

Angel had hiked down a steep crevasse. An avid mountain climber and hiker, Angel was no stranger to the harsh and scorching landscape that was the Arizona desert. She had told her friends and family that she needed some time off and was going camping and hiking on her own. This was not unusual for Angel so her family and friends thought nothing of her little weekend escape and was told to be careful. Angel had decided that looking for the gold using the old man’s map would be something fun and was looking forward to her “escape” from work and the routine stuff that comes with living in the busy city of Phoenix. However, during her drive east of the Superstition Mountains she had been questioning if she was nuts.

The map was clear and concise and Angel figured the old man had been in the military and it was evidence that he was a seasoned hiker and map maker. It was a well-made topographical map with coordinates which illustrated elevation and contour lines of hills, various landforms, and crevasses. It was an expert depiction of the ground relief, terrain, and even the flow of creeks and animal or human trails. Angel was athletic enough that she did not foresee any problem with locating a hidden treasure. She contemplated about what she would do with the gold, if indeed there was any. She wondered what it would feel like to be out of debt, especially her college loans.

The old man had died the next morning at Banner Goldfield Medical Center. He refused to speak with anyone, except Angel. She held his hand as he took his last breath. She felt a deep sadness. She had never lost anyone close to her but had seen many people and children die in her work. Angel had been a rescue EMT for 8 years and had many rescue stories, some devastating and with only a few happy outcomes. She lectured at schools and community colleges regarding desert search and rescue, and how to recognize, treat and avoid heat exhaustion.

Angel hurt for the old guy because she never even asked his name. He had died without any identification. When the rescue team found him, they just called him the “old guy.”

Once back in civilization she would make sure the first thing to do would be to trade in her old car for a new off-road vehicle.

________________

Now it was midnight and she was peeing in the desert.

As Angel pulled up her pants, she heard a loud THUD. She felt the car jump with the weight of whatever landed on the car. She yelped and jumped away, but it was so dark and her eyes had adjusted about as good as they were going to adjust. Regardless, she was blinded by dark shadows.

She heard a WHOOSH and felt the pressure of a blast of air like giant bird wings flapping. She crouched low where she had been standing and yelled out into the darkness, “What the hell!”

The car’s rear tires bounced off the ground and then another THUD landed directly in front of her. It had kicked up dirt and rocks. Angel choked and coughed in panic.

“Calm down” said a deep voice, then again soothingly, “Calm down.”

Angel stood and reached out like a blind woman, “Who’s there? I can’t see.”

“Here drink some water and wash your face.  I got this water bottle out of your car” said the voice.

“Um-Okay.” she said as she felt the water bottle pressing into her hand and did as she was told.

“Can you see me now?” said the voice.

Angel looked hard and couldn’t believe the shadowy outline of what stood before her. She closed her eyes and opened them again.

“You’re a giant,” she whispered. “Oh my gawd.” She gazed upward at a being that appeared to be over eight feet tall.

“I won’t hurt you,” it said.

“Are those w-wings?”

The creature’s yellow eyes glowed like starshine and a visceral light emanated from them.

“What the fuck are you?”

“I am stuff of legends, dear.”

Huge clawed hands touched muscular thighs as the thing bent low so they could look at each other face to face.

“Listen, I won’t hurt you. I’m bending so you can see my face. Horrific, I know, but I’m good.”

Angel covered her mouth with both hands as she gazed at the creature before her. His look was penetrating and made her feel as if he could see into her soul. It was a hypnotic pull. She felt the urge to scream in terror and to run into the darkness.

She willed herself to stay calm and to speak.

“You resemble the gargoyles of Notre Dame.” Said Angel as she gulped for air. “I saw statues of you when I traveled abroad.”

A deep throated laughter emanated from the creature. It sent a chill up her spine. She felt every little hair on her arms and neck stand on end.

“I’m not from France. Don’t mean to scare you.”

“Then, who are you? What are you? You speak good English.”

“My name is Goji. Pleased to meet you. And you are?”

“Hi, I’m Angel,” she whispered as he straightened up to full height.

“Ahhhhh, a glorious angel stands before me.”

The gargoyle regally bowed his head and said,

“Why are you out here in the middle of the night where dangerous creatures abound?”

“Do you mind if I grab my camping chair from the back. I need to sit. I’m shaking so hard that I don’t think I can stand much longer.”

“Please do.”

Angel walked to the back of the SUV and lifted the hatch and pulled out two camping chairs.

She offered one of them to the gargoyle, he said,

“Oh no dear, I’ll break it. You sit. I will lean against your car, if you don’t mind?”

Angel sat in the cloth chair, glad to be off her feet. She was still shaking, but not from being cold. Even so, she was intrigued and wondered if she was dreaming.

“Am I dreaming?” She said out loud not expecting an answer.

“No, I saw you were stranded and wondered if you would seek help or if other humans would find you. I’ve been watching from afar.”

Angel was speechless, so he continued, “I flew down because earlier I smelled a mountain lion nearby and felt I needed to protect you.”

“After all, that is what we gargoyles do.” He made air quotes at his use of the word gargoyle. “We protect.”

Goji leaned against the SUV with one ankle crossing his other as he stood. His muscular arms and hands reached back as he nonchalantly leaned into the car.

There was an awkward silence. Angel stared at the monstrous thing before her. His face was apelike but his ears were long and the top point of each curved forward. Unlike an ape, there was no hair on his face or body. The legs were long and muscular. They looked like photos she’d seen in her ex-boyfriend’s bodybuilding magazines. Goji had high cheekbones and the enormous almond shaped yellow eyes gave his chiseled face an Asian look. His lips were full and out of his mouth jutted curved tusks, like a wild boar.

Angel asked, “Where are you from? Have you always been here in this desert?”

“I was born long ago in the sedge lands of Kemet, what you would call Egypt.”

Angel nodded, and said, “Was it an insult to call you a gargoyle?”

“No, I laughed because that word means ‘throat’ or ‘gullet’ relegating my kind as stone water spouts. It just makes me laugh.”

“I’m sorry. That is funny. I suppose the stone gargoyles served their purpose. Then, what are you?”

“We are ancients. As I said, my kind originated in the riverbanks of Kemet long before humankind appeared. You may just call me Goji.”

“How did you learn to speak English?”

“Long ago. I also speak Akkadian, Sumerian, Cappadocian, Arabic, French, actually, many languages. I’ve been around for millennia so I’ve picked up a few things, like languages.”

“Millenia? Wow. Why are you here, in the desert? Angel spread her arms out to signify the area.

“I’ve always loved the desert. This Arizona desert reminds me of home, far way, but it makes me reminiscent. Frankly, humanity tires me with their wars and pollution and the noise. Ugh. I hate all the noise you humans make.” He made his large pointy ears flap to accentuate that noise bothers him.

Angel laughed at his flapping ears. She felt more at ease.

The soft glow of a new dawn peeked gingerly from the far mountains and a warm breeze blew through the surrounding scrub and acacia trees. Angel walked to her open front passenger door and asked Goji if he wanted a bottle of water. He motioned his head no and watched her reach in for a new bottle from the open ice chest on the front seat.

She sat back down and asked, “So, what do your kind eat and drink?”

“Oh, I drink creek water and I like meat, lots of meat: rats, deer, and I occasionally like to scare up a mountain lion. That’s how I found you. I was keeping watch.”

Angel looked at his tusks in wonderment and felt chilled all over again.

“Do you often appear to humans?”

“Hardly ever. But I once had an enlightening conversation with the bishop of Rouen who spread lies about me and told his people that he killed me by holding his mighty crucifix at me. He was a pervert who manipulated the Merovingian stock, but I won’t get into that.”

Angel laughed and said, “You’re funny. Thanks for not tearing me to shreds with your tusks and those scary claws.”

Goji looked at his hands and smiled.

“So, what are you doing broken down in the middle of nowhere?”

Angel raised her eyebrows and said, “If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.”

“Try me.”

“Well, me and my crew, Um, I work for an emergency response team, S-A-R, Search and Rescue, and my crew was dispatched to rescue this old guy from the Superstition Mountains the other day and he gave me a map when I was treating him for dehydration.” Feeling a little embarrassed, she paused.

“Go on.”

“Well, long story short, we did the emergency search and rescue. I treated the very dehydrated old man. He gave me a map and told me it would show me where he hid a treasure. The gold from the Lost Dutchman Mine. He said he and his family have been moving it and hiding it for years, his father and great-grandfather, etc.” Angel looked at her hands, “He died the next day at the hospital.”

“So, Old Kellerman died.”

Surprised at Goji’s statement, Angel asked,

“You knew the old guy? I didn’t know his name. He said he was a doctor.”

“Yes, Dr. Kellerman. Poor man died. Sad.” Goji looked down and shook his head.

Angel whispered, “I’m sorry. He told me he was dying of lung cancer.”

“Kellerman was supposed to meet me at a designated spot three days ago but he never made it. Now I know why. Pardon me.”

Angel watched Goji walk a few feet away as he looked up towards the orange glow of the awakening sun. He turned and walked back towards her. His enormous wings stretched out then fanned in. Angel choked on her water when she saw the wingspan and pretended to cough.

She said, “I’m sorry I gave you the bad news. I felt really sorry for him. He had no I.D. on him when we brought him in. He wouldn’t talk with anyone except me.”

“Kellerman was my only friend. His father was also a friend. So was his grandfather and great-grandfather.”

“I’m so sorry Mr. Goji”

“Just Goji. Thanks.”

“I helped the family hide a vast treasure and have been helping them do this for a very long time. I am the guardian of that treasure.” When Angel did not respond he continued,

“The Kellerman’s were originally prospectors who found a huge vein here in the southwest. They later became mining magnates. Some of their offspring went on to be politicians, lawyers, and doctors. Good people. The Kellermans enjoyed the old stories that a German immigrant by the name of Jacob Waltz found the gold. Waltz was a boastful drunken braggart and the Kellermans never corrected the rumors.”

“So, everything the old man told me is true?”

“Yes. Do you have the map? Can I see it?”

Angel got the flashlight and map from her glovebox and handed both to Goji.

He unfolded the map on the hood of the car, then fumbled with the flashlight.

Angel grabbed it from him and pressed the button. She shined the light on Goji to get a better look at him.

“Wow,” she said, “You look fearsome but somehow I’m not afraid of you any longer.”

Goji grabbed the flashlight from her in embarrassment.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to stare. That was rude.”

“That’s okay, I just don’t want to scare you with my beauty. No worries,” he said with a smile.

He pointed to the map with a clawed finger, “See that?”

Angel looked at the map where his clawed finger pointed at a drawing in the corner at the edge.

“I didn’t remember seeing that. It’s a winged creature. It’s a drawing of you on top of a mountain.”

“Kellerman was a good artist. He was always drawing pictures of me when he was a kid. Yes, this is Kellerman’s map.

Angel asked, “He said someone had been following him. Do you think someone knew about the map?”

“Yes, I found two guys lost around the area I was to meet Kellerman. While they were sleeping I found some guns and bottles of booze in their bags. I hid but followed them and heard them talking about killing some old guy. Apparently, they cozied up to Old Kellerman at a bar and while he was drunk he started talking about a lost treasure only he knew where it was hidden. Old Kellerman apparently told them he was to meet someone to help him move the gold. That’s why they were waiting to ambush him.”

Angel asked, “Why would he tell people about it?”

“I don’t think people really ever believed him when he spoke about it. He started drinking a lot after his family died off. I told him never to say anything, but I guess he was rambling and these guys started following him.”

“He seemed pretty scared when we found him. I wonder what happened to those men who had been following him?”

“I broke their necks while they slept at their campsite”

Dumbfounded, Angel just looked at Goji.

“I know. I wouldn’t have killed them but they were talking about killing Old Kellerman. I’ve been friends with the family for over a hundred and fifty years. I was not going to let anything happen to him.”

“I understand, but what did you do with the bodies?”

“I threw their clothes and things in a garbage dumpster in a Gold Canyon housing development and then flew back and laid their bodies in an area where I saw a vulture family nesting.”

“What the fuck?”

“Well, at least it was a humane thing to do. The vulture family had fledglings so the bodies did not go to waste.”

“Oh, okay, I feel better now,” said Angel with a sarcastic tone.

The giant gargoyle ripped the map to shreds.

Angel reached out with her hand but it was too late, “Why did you do that?”

He turned to her and said, “Why do you need the map? I just told you I’m the guardian of the treasure.”

“I, I liked it. I would have kept it as a keepsake.”

“Look Ms. Angel, I have dozens of old maps made by the Kellermans in my cave. I’ll give you the last one he made before this.”

Angel looked up at Goji as the sun rose high over the mountain. His presence among a desert landscape she had always known made her wonder what other things unknown hid among the boulders and rocks surrounding them.

“This is going to sound weird, but have you ever flown a human from one place to another?”

“Yes, once, Old Kellerman when he was a teen. He had asked many times when he was younger but I always refused. It had to be at night. I have always been very careful.” He looked away and closed his eyes for a moment. It was a painful memory of a time past.

“Okay, so, this is weird, no one will believe this, but can you fly me to the nearest gas station?”

“I’m sorry, no,” said the gargoyle.

“What? Why?”

“I mean to say no, not now. When It’s dark I will be happy to fly you near a gas station or closer to civilization.”

Angel muttered to herself, “One more day out here in this heat. My car is too hot. This is crazy.”

“I can, however, fly you nearby.”

Goji pointed to a far mountain spine which spanned the landscape. “I stay in a cave up there. It’s cool away from the sun. Actually, it gets cold. I have food and water if you like?”

Angel, looked up at him, then glanced at the sun which was soon to be high up and the heat would begin baking things like an earthly convection oven.

“Okay, let me get my backpack out of the car.”

She strapped the backpack in front of her body instead of her back as Goji instructed her. He bent and wrapped his huge arms around her small waist and began lifting her. His wings were not like those of a bird, but like those of a bat, a gigantic bat. The heat from his body seared her back and neck and she cried out as they flew away, his tight hold on her while they lifted off made her feel faint. She opened her eyes and looked down. Her car looked like a tiny speck among the landscape of saguaro and mesquite trees. The wavy heat blast of hot winds accompanied their flight as they passed ravens and hawks circling wide and out of their way. He gently lowered her as the beat of wings slowed and the dust settled.

They quietly stood on the steep cliffside looking out at the vibrant colors and hues of greens and browns and shadows that undulated across the panoramic view of the desert. It was breathtaking.

Angel sighed and looked around. “I don’t see a cave.”

“Of course not. It’s hidden.”

Goji effortlessly moved a giant boulder which to Angel had only appeared to be part of the mountain.

He stood before an opening and bowed, “After you.”

Angel wasn’t sure if she should enter the beckoning darkness of what looked like a huge cavern, much of which was the mountain itself. She gingerly entered the cave. They followed a downward path for what seemed like hours. Angel noticed the cooling temperature as they descended. After a time, she was able to see her surroundings as a strange glow appeared around a sharp bend in their path.

Long jagged and pointy russet-gold stalagmites jutted down from the top of the cavernous space high above her. The enormous razor spikes emitted an incandescent bioluminescent glow from bright mosses that hung in between them. It was truly a vision to behold. Angel was an avid hiker and spelunker and relished the idea of spending a lot of time exploring this mountain. With head turned upward she turned in circles and smiled gleefully.

“Wow!” Was all she felt compelled to say. A voice echoed back with another “Wow!” No other words could describe the awe she felt at that moment. A mythical gargoyle, this amazing cavern. What next?

“Watch your step, Ms. Angel,” Said Goji. He pointed down.

“This is bottomless. I would never find you if you fell.”

Angel fell to her knees and peered into a giant pit. With mouth open she turned to look up at Goji.

“Seriously? Bottomless?”

“As far as I have been able to determine. Please step away from there.” He grabbed her arm and helped her up. He steered Angel toward an archway that led into another cave.

“Please have a seat. We have much to discuss.”

The cave was smaller than the cavernous entry. A stream of water trickled nearby. She watched Goji round the large room lighting torches embedded into the rock walls. He grabbed a rope and gently lowered a medieval looking wrought iron round light fixture with hundreds of candles. The sound of the babbling brook echoed as Angel watched Goji patiently light the candles.

He said, “I haven’t lit these in over a century.”

“It’s very beautiful in here,” said Angel as she walked around looking at faded hanging tapestries that belonged in a castle. They looked hauntingly out of place among the jutting red rock walls. The fire’s illuminating glow revealed an ancient petroglyph on the farthest wall in the cave. It depicted a herd of pronghorn antelope that appeared to be running with the flickering shadows of the nearby torchlight, squiggly lines in a row to signify water, dragonflies, and hand imprints with the infinity circle inside the palm. Angel pressed her hand atop one of those hands and kept it there as she imagined who made these wonderous images. Angel had been lost in thought but then turned and found Goji staring at her.

He whispered, “The artwork of an ancient people.” His reverence bespoke that he was equally amazed as she.

Frayed and torn red and blue velvet chairs and couches from another century encircled a fire pit.

“Thank you for trusting me to bring you here,” he said as he sat on an immense block of basalt. “You are the first human I’ve ever brought in here.” He paused. Silence.

Angel suddenly felt nervous. The feeling of being on the precipice of new and unfathomable experiences and emotions did not elude her. She felt special and chosen for a big responsibility. She waited.

“So, I have one request before I bestow my new young,” He paused, took a deep intake of breath, and continued, “and very beautiful new friend with riches beyond belief.”

His yellow eyes bored into Angel. They burned into her soul and she felt shaken but could only stare back at him in fear.

“Are you sure you told no one of the map or what Old Kellerman said to you? I need to be sure.”

“No. I did not mention it to anyone. I felt no one would believe me anyway. My coworkers are jokesters when we’re not working, and since I’m the only female crew member they like to rib me and poke fun, but it’s all in good sport. We get together, but I felt they would make fun of me or make fun of the old guy. I felt really sorry for him. He was so intense.”

“Well then, Ms. Angel, I have a proposition for you. Hear me out.” Goji leaned closer to her and took hold of her hand. It looked small and fragile in his. She noticed his claws were razor sharp, yet, at that moment, her fear dissipated with his warm touch.

“Ms. Angel?”

“Yes?”

“Will you do me the honor of being my friend?”

The pleading intensity with which his almond shaped fiery eyes looked into hers was hopeful, a raw innocence, childlike. It was a simple request, yet it was a plea, a deep longing for a friend. Angel knew this friendship would be the greatest treasure of all. This lonely giant soul needed a friend.

Tears pooled and flowed down her cheeks at the sadness and loneliness this plea exuded. She could not fathom a loneliness that extended centuries.

Angel wiped the tears away and with a smile said,

“I would be truly honored Goji.”

__________

Years passed.

Angel went to medical school and became a respected trauma surgeon. People grew tired of wondering where she would disappear for weeks, sometimes months, at a time. She was so mysterious that they eventually stopped wondering, or worrying, about her disappearances.

Goji and Angel became the best of friends. He relished their discussions about religion, politics, and life in general. He wanted details and the minutia of all the experiences she recounted of her daily life. He was fascinated with technology and the human advancements in science and space travel. Discussions of alien worlds, UFOs, quantum physics, and multiverses, and nanotechnology were his favorite topics of discussion. She brought books, newspapers, and magazines to his cave. His thirst for any and all information was voracious.

The day Angel gave Goji a smartphone they both laughed because she was his only listed contact. She rolled on the floor, laughing uncontrollably, in her office the day she received a selfie from him.

In time, Angel created the GOJI Charitable Foundation which helped the poor and sick around the world.  Hospitals and research facilities in the Kellerman name were founded. This was the dream of both Goji and Angel. They worked together on all of these projects. Angel sought Goji’s advice on everything. It was a marriage of sorts.

Their fondness for each other was unspoken and unrequited, yet clearly evident in the amount of time they spent together, in that cavern, or on those long and moonlit night flights they so loved to take together.

Throughout the years, Goji and Angel, planned and arranged meeting at mapped out destinations around the world. They walked among Egyptian and Aztec pyramids on moonless nights. The South American jungles held no fear for Angel as long as she walked with Goji. Angel charted planes to private islands, and there she would wait for Goji to alight on the midnight beaches where they would walk and talk until daylight. A winged preternatural being landing in a foggy landscape was a sight to behold, and it never ceased to fill Angel with heart-pounding awe.

__________

One evening, Angel died in Goji’s arms. It was where she wanted to be. For over sixty-five years they had been dear friends, comrades, and confidants. Later, in a private ceremony, seen only by bats and quiet slithering things, Goji threw a handful of orange and yellow cactus blooms and wildflowers. He watched them float downward, into the bottomless pit, now a sacred sepulcher. A soft echo of a whisper floated upward, then silence. He stood motionless at the edge for hours, like a stone statue on the high parapet of an ancient cathedral.

Not long after that, Goji, an ancient from Kemet, moved the boulder into place to hide the cavern forever and he flew off into an obsidian Arizona night.

 

~ end

 

Gargoyle

 

Diana Garcia is an Arizona native currently residing in Prescott, Arizona. She has a journalism degree from Arizona State University, Walter Cronkrite School; and is a researcher, photojournalist, performance poet and storyteller. Short stories of varying genres are her favorite story telling medium, which have been published, along with her poetry, in a few anthologies. Her writing strongly reflects her strong cultural ties to her indigenous Mexica and Xicano heritage. She is currently researching and writing a historical novel, as well as an anthology of her poetry and short stories.

Note from Juliette:

I love this story so much. Thank you Diana for writing it and letting me share it with my readers. All of her stories are from the heart and will transport you to another time and place.

For more information about Diana and her other works please see the FaceBook link below. Or click here for more information.

“Goji and the Angel” was featured in the WPaD Anthology “Weirder Tales.

Diana is a founding member of WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants) and I am proud and honored to say she is my friend. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

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