Short Story Sunday: There Would Always Be Cats

Everyone was surprised when the first bombs went off in the Southern Hemisphere. Who would have thought? So much for going to Machu Picchu for Bill’s retirement. Then again, she didn’t really think Bill would ever retire? His fans demanded more and more each year in a time when one would think he’d be too old to be considered sexy anymore.

After that nobody could have even imagined those people from God knows where, from some other universe or galaxy, or even Hell, coming along and causing even more problems.

Apparently they, the purple people, been watching the Earth for a while like a bunch of creepy stalkers. Ellie knew all about stalkers. She’d been a movie star (under another name) for decades. She’d had perverts with cameras trying to climb over her fence and bothering her when she took her kids to the beach, to school, or anywhere else they went. She knew all about stalkers.

Fortunately for humanity the strangely attractive, but violent purple humanoids were allergic, to of all things, cats. Yes, cats did them in. First of all, in all of their travels through the universe they had never seen anything so adorable and appealing. Second, and most important, even their highly super advanced space suits couldn’t keep out whatever it was about cats that finally killed them.

It was like a drug. The purple aliens had to have cats. They craved the soft fur, and the sound of purring. They swooned at the sight of a tiny triangular nose, and the child like mewing. Then they died.

Cat dander. Who would have thought?

All of the aliens died. That was a good thing because the governments of The United States of America, Canada, and Mexico were able to get the technology off of their spaceships. Nobody was quite sure what was done with said technology, but the humans of North America had it ALL.

Then the weather changed, again, and some sort of weird pressure system clamped off the radioactive and other poisons from the south. By then the poisons and aliens had also killed off half of the population of the Northern Hemisphere. North America, Most of Europe, the Pacific Rim, and most of North Africa were spared, but it was carnage in between. The purple aliens came through Asia like the ancient Huns, only sparing the lands along the Himalayas. They also crept into Florida but were killed off by all of the cats in Key West.

Ellie poured a glass of wine and thought about how sad it was that the Argentinian and Australian vineyards had been all but destroyed. It was a good thing that the California vineyards had been untouched.

She looked at the gray green pelt stretched out in her back yard, then at the ocean view beyond her infinity pool. The gray green aliens had come next. They were especially violent but there had been fewer of them. They’d discovered beer and meth. It didn’t take long before all of them died, but not without causing a lot of damage and hate among the California locals. The folks in Silicone Valley had taken the gray green technology. There again, it was too soon to know if anyone was going to do anything with it.

She thought of her husband and how sad he had been lately. He was from Australia. He’d come over thirty years ago to do just one movie and stayed. His ability to do any accent, along with his good looks had kept him working. Even now, after the wars, and alien invasions, and a prosthetic leg (blown off while fighting purple aliens) he was still working. His most recent movie was about lovers separated by the pressure system that separated the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Too bad it couldn’t be filmed on location. Ellie was glad the movie had finished shooting. Bill had been so sad through all of it.

As a formation of jet fighters flew over Ellie thought of their eldest son. He was a pilot. He might even be up there right now looking out for aliens to blast out of the sky.  Her daughter had spent time seeking out the war criminals who’d set the bombs off. Now war had been banned.  Most primitive social structures had been more or less disbanded. Unfortunately after the bombs, and the opening up of holes for aliens to get in, people were just fed up with aggression and assholes. Just fed up.

The only advantage was that now Ellie could have as many cats as she wanted. There were seven of them right now. Edward (gray tabby), Olie (orange tabby), Mitzi (calico), Jen (black), Rick (black and white tuxedo), Pixy (gray and white tabby), Jasper (gray).

Out of the sky came a fireball followed by the formation of jet fighters. The fireball crashed down on the beach, and showed itself to be a golden sphere with a large protrusion that looked like an old fashioned TV antenna. Ellie put her wine down and grabbed her binoculars to get a better look.  A door popped open on the top of the sphere and out of it emerged an orange man in a silver jump suit.  His ears were pointed like an elf.

“Not on my fucking shelf you don’t,” Ellie said to herself.

“Ellie, what in the world are you talking about.”

She turned to see Bill had come out on the deck to join her.

“An orange alien in a gold ball with an old fashioned TV antenna. It looks like an elf.”

The jets flew over and bombed the gold ball and the orange alien to oblivion.

“We’ll go down tomorrow and check out the debris, said Bill. “We might find something interesting.”

“I wonder where it was from,” said Ellie.

“I don’t care at this point dear. We’re nothing but food for them.”

“These ones are orange, like those creatures from Willy Wonka.”

Oompa Loompas.”

“With elf ears.”

As Bill put his arm around his wife’s waist they both turned to the sound of someone running across the yard.

Soot and blue blood covered orange alien in a half burned silver jumpsuit ran towards them, followed by seven snarling, hissing, screaming cats. As the cats grew closer, the alien stopped and looked around. It opened its mouth to show rows of tiny sharp teeth. Bright blue eyes the size of teacups opened wide. No sound came out.

“Get out of my yard,” Ellie yelled at it, picking a Meyer lemon off of a nearby tree and throwing it as hard as she could, hitting the orange alien on the head. As she grabbed another lemon the cats attacked clawing up the silver jumpsuit covered legs. The alien then dove into the infinity pool.

“Oh for God’s sake,” said Bill. “Not in the pool.”

The cats stood together by the edge of the pool. Along with Ellie and Bill they watched the orange alien fizz like a bath bomb and disintegrated leaving nothing but a bubbling orange scum on the surface of the pool and a charred silver jumpsuit.

“It must have been the chlorine,” said Ellie.

“Maybe,” said Bill. “I’ll call the authorities to come clean up the mess and take a report.”

“Just in case,” said Ellie, “we should call the pool service for an extra cleaning.”

“Good idea,” said Bill.

Later after the authorities had taken a report, and the toxic waste crew and scientists had cleaned up the mess, Ellie opened a bottle of wine.

She and Bill, the love of her life, watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.

Their cats gathered around and purred.

“You know Bill, we’re living in weird times. I always thought the 1980’s when we were young were weird, but these times are really weird.”

“Weirder than extreme shoulder pads and Xanadu?”

“Well, maybe not,” Ellie said laughing.

Then they clinked their glasses together, and watched the sunset, not daring to speculate what the future might bring. All they knew was that it was their own crazy romantic story to tell; like a strange underground cult movie that turned out to be their life story. And of course along with their love and their children, they had their cats. That was the one thing they could always be certain of. There would always be cats.

 

~ end

Tangled Tales

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

2019 Nano Pablano Cheer Peppers. 

 

Short Story Sunday: Brothers in Arms

And I thought my life was weird, thought Austin after reading a news story about a historian in Russia who was pulled out of a river along with a rucksack full of severed arms. The arms belonged to a former student.

Austin never had any students he disliked that much.

After kissing his girlfriend, who was still asleep, and would be sleeping all day, he wandered down to the local coffee shop. Inside at the back table his friend Aaron was reading and drinking his usual triple expresso.

Aaron glanced up. “Hey. I just ordered you something.”

Janet behind the counter called, “Austin, coconut latte, extra shot.”

Austin picked up his coffee and Janet smiled at him in a come hither way that almost made Austin’s face turn red.

Back at the table Aaron put down his book. “How are you Austin?”

“Good. I’m half way through the semester and haven’t lost any students yet. No failures. The graduate students are exceptionally delightful. Elizabeth is sleeping in my bed as we speak.”

“You’re back with Elizabeth?” Aaron looked surprised. “You know, you aren’t getting any younger.”

Austin looked at his friend. He used to look younger than Aaron and now he looked slightly older. Aaron was one of those guys who never aged, not surprising considering he was a 165 year old Vampire.

Aaron continued. “You turn forty in a few months. If you want to have a family you’d better find a nice woman in her thirties with a ticking biological time clock and settle down. Otherwise you’d might as well become one of us.”

“I hunt Vampires,” said Austin.

“Only the nasty ones we need to get rid of. You know, you could just quite that business and teach history full time.”

“Who would do your dirty work for you? Have you thought about that?”

Aaron shrugged. “You have a point there. Hey, did you hear about that guy in Russia they found in the river with a bag full of arms. I thought about you.”

Austin laughed out loud. Then he thought about the touch of Elizabeth’s cool mouth of his skin, and the fact that she’d read Jane Austin as a child, when the books were new. He thought about all the times he and Aaron had hunted down soulless rogue Vampires. He thought about the cold river and what kinds of things drive men mad. And after that split second of a million thoughts he said, “Great minds think alike.”

Aaron lifted his cup, “Here’s to us, brothers in arms.”

“Brothers in arms,” said Austin, as he reminded himself how normal his life actually was.

~ end

 

Tangled Tales

This has been another Austin and Elizabeth story. For more adventures click here. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

2019 Nano Pablano Cheer Peppers. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: A Ray of Hope

A Ray of Hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I still have the note.

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

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

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

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

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

“My Uncle Ray. I miss him.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think it was.

~ end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Tangled Tales

Short Story Sunday: Boys Will Be Boys

Adam had heard the stories about Luther.

When they were kids Luther would go out to the fields behind Grandma’s house and shoot anything that moved. It started with birds and rabbits. Then it moved on to cats. Luther had an almost gleeful vendetta to shoot any cat he was that wasn’t in somebody’s yard.

Luther’s parents (Adam’s aunt and uncle) just shrugged and said, “boys will be boys.” They figured that Luther wouldn’t grow up to be a sissy. When Adam told them he only shot animals with a camera they just laughed.

When Luther’s daughter was afraid of an excited terrier pup he told everyone he was going to shoot the dog. That would be after he kicked it, beat it, and refused to give it food for almost a week. Luther’s sister Belinda gave Luther an earful, called him an asshole, and took the dog. It was the second dog she’s rescued from Luther.

A few years later he starved a German Shepard. That dog was rescued by his cousin Janice.

He continued to shoot cats. His wife continued to post photos of their pets on social media. It was a different group of pets every other year. She talked of how sweet their fur babies were and how much she loved them. It sort of made Adam sick.

It reminded Adam of a strange creepy family that had rented the house next to his a few years back. The four children would look at him though cracks in the fence and say strange things.

One day the oldest, the only boy, whispered, “my sister is retarded, do you want to see her dance?” Then the child popped his head over the fence and yelled, “my sister is retarded, do you want to see her dance? My mom said you’re gay because you don’t have a family. Do you want to see our kittens?”

The parents knew the children loved kittens more than anything else. They let their cats have a littler of kittens, then they’d take the mother to the pound and keep the kittens. When the kittens started to look and act more like cats they would take them to the pound and keep one or two females to have more kittens. The sick cycle would continue.

One day Adam’s seven year old niece Aurora was visiting. The creepy children came to the fence and whispered mean things. Adam turned the hose on them. An hour later the mother of the children came over claiming that Aurora had said mean things about their special needs child. Adam called her a liar and an animal abuser and threatened to have them evicted. Luckily for Adam they were gone within a month for not paying their rent.

A nice couple with a beautiful well behaved, well loved dog moved in. They were the perfect neighbors. It turned out that they were con-artists. They’d call the County offices and file complaints against their landlord and then refuse to pay rent. It had been a pattern with them. With a little effort and a few code violations they never had to pay for lodging – never ever. Then they vanished and the landlords sold the house and Adam bought it and rented it out to friends.

Now twenty years later he was out of town for Aurora’s wedding, and the entire family was there. Aurora was hesitant about inviting Luther to the wedding, but his kids were sweet, and everybody liked his wife. Adam wondered what kind of woman would marry a man who abused animals.

At the reception Adam’s longtime girlfriend Brandy told him about Luther bragging about dumping a dog at the lake. He said everybody dumped dogs there. Then he’d laughed about it. The dog was worthless but at least he hadn’t shot it.

Adam had once asked Luther why he was so mean to animals. Luther said, “I hate cats. I don’t know why. They’re worthless. Dogs on the other hand need to know their place. If they scare my kids, or pee in the house I’m going to shoot their asses. They’re just dogs. It isn’t like they have souls.”

Luther’s girls liked puppies but only if they didn’t jump or nip like puppies tend to do.

Then Brandy looked up at the dusky sky and said, “Full moon tonight Adam.”

Adam kissed her, then went to get more wine.

“Look at the moon,” said Luther. Then he laughed. “Let’s go shoot some werewolves.”

The next morning, after the bride and groom had left for Hawaii, Luther’s wife said he was missing.

Luther was found in the woods behind Grandma’s old house. He’d been gutted by wild animals. The police said it looked like it might have been wild dogs, or maybe even a bear.

Adam and Brandy skipped the funeral and drove up the coast to his beach house. That night he lit a candle in memory of all of the cats and dogs who’d suffered abuse at the hand’s of humans.

He found Brandy in the bathroom gargling with salt water. “What’s the matter honey?” He asked her as he rubbed her back.

“I don’t know Adam. I just can’t get the bad taste out of my mouth.”

“I know the feeling well,” he said, then went to the kitchen and opened a bottle of wine. It was a nice full Zinfandel, guaranteed to mellow out the evening. He poured a glass for himself, and one for Brandy. Then he went outside and listened to the sound of the waves, and the light house horn, and tried to empty his mind, until the next full moon night.

~ End

Tangled Tales

 

 

For more Horror fun check out  Creepies 3 (available on Amazon, Kobo, B&N and other fine online book sellers. Available in both electronics and paperback versions. Proceeds go to MS Research to support our fellow writers who have MS.

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Short Story Sunday: Night Dogs

Tangled Tales

 

Night Dogs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ End

 

Tangled Tales

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Art (an extremely short Vampire story)

Counting down to Halloween!

Tangled Tales

Art (an extremely short Vampire story)

He never tried of looking at the Thomas Hill painting of Yosemite. Behind him he could hear the museum docent talking about the Guilded Age and the massive woodwork behind him.

As a child he’d come here for musical events, and even roller skating. Not exactly here, the new wing of the museum opened in 2010. He’d been in the original building and even in the private residence next door.

When you’re born in 1957 and still around in 2018 sometimes time seems to stand still.

A woman came up next to him and put her hand on his shoulder. He kissed her cheek.

“You look like a woman in a portrait I just saw,” he said.

“I am the woman in the portrait you saw,” she said. It was a long running joke with them.

“Glad you could make it Mom.”

“So am I. We need to do this more often.”

“October is almost here.”

“Indeed. Four of my children have birthday’s this month.”

“And Halloween.”

She gave a little snort. “It was easier to be a Vampire before Halloween was such a big deal.”

“Maybe.”

They roamed the galleries looking at both familiar and new art pieces.

She took her son’s arm and gave it a gentle squeeze. “I loved those times, when everything here was new. It was a new city. You were all children. So much was happening. I miss people, but I look forward. I don’t dwell on the past. That keeps us young. If you keep looking towards the future and live in the present it will keep you from being a Halloween Vampire. I shutter to think that any of my kids will be musty old beings who don’t have enough sense to keep their fangs in and blood off of their chins.”

“You’ll never have to worry about that,” said her son. “But I know what you mean.”

As they walked along they could see other in contemplation looking at the art, which like them, was timeless.

~ end

crocker-art-museum

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman