Short Story Sunday: The Box In Dave’s Basement

“I was just going out for coffee,” said Austin as he looked at the carnage surrounding him.

Coffee with the crossword puzzle, and a little bit of fresh air sounded good. Then Dave, who lived three houses down called to him as he waked by, “Hey, Austin, there’s something weird in my basement. Take a look.”

Austin was both a history professor and a general contractor specializing in historic restorations, so of course he’d check it out. Dave lived in the oldest house on that street, built in 1888. It was a fantastic small Queen Anne, painted shades of blue and cream.  Dave led the way to the back of the dark space to an oblong box.

“I was measuring the room and moved away some lumber that had been here since I moved in and found this,” said Dave. “It looks like a coffin. Do you think I should call someone?”

“Let me take a look. I’ve found these before,” said Austin, taking out his penknife. He slid the knife around the edges of the box to see if there was a latch or any loose spots.

Then all Hell broke loose. Two men, dressed in long black coats, carrying guns and large knives appeared at the door.

“Hey,” yelled Dave. “Get the fuck outta here. I told you guys to stay away from my house. I’m calling 911. I warned you.” Then he turned to Austin. “The bastards were out last week. I told them…”

The men moved closer. Dave continued, “Out NOW.” Dave was a medium sized silver haired average family guy his mid fifties, with some sort of upper management job with the Department of Water Resources. His wife was wife away on a girl’s weekend. His kids were away at college. He’d been working on making the basement into the ultimate man cave over the past few weekends. He wasn’t in the mood for Vampire Hunters.

“Damn it. I said GET OUT you crazies,” Dave yelled.

“Just let us have the box,” said one of the men, a tall shaggy haired guy with some sort of unidentifiable accent.

Austin took a step forward, getting between Dave and the vampire hunters. “No can do guys. You have to go.”

The other man, a bald guy with huge shoulders pointed a gun at Austin and Dave. “Move aside gentlemen.” He then shoved them out of the way and with a swift kick popped open the box.

Inside was the perfectly preserved body of a woman in an old fashioned lace dress. She looked as though she was made of fine leather. A bunch of dried roses were in her hand.

The shaggy haired man lifted a huge wooden stake. Dave and Austin both yelled, “NO.”

Dave jumped on the back of the bald man. Austin knocked the shaggy haired man out of the way.

Suddenly a blinding flash of light and a blast of cold air knocked them to the wall. Two more men appeared at the door, also in black but without the coats. One carried a knife, and the other a whip. The smiled, showing fangs.

“Holy shit,” whispered Dave.

The vampires grabbed the men in the black coats by the scruff of their necks, like small children, and threw them back out into the sunlight. One of the vampires uttered a string of long strange sounding words, and the vampire hunters ran down the street.

The woman in the coffin sat up, and moved her head around.

“Stiff neck?” Austin asked.

She looked at him, surprised. Then she smiled with a slight show of her own fangs. “Yes, thanks for the concern. How long did I sleep?”

“From the looks of your dress, maybe ninety years,” said Austin.

“I guess I missed that party then,” she said with a slight laugh.

“This is too weird,” said Dave as he got up, and crossed the room. He turned on the overhead shop lights and got a good look at his company. “You mean to tell me you’ve been in that box for ninety years?”

The woman just blinked against the light. The two Vampires stood out of the shadows.

“Hey, Austin,” said one of them. “I thought that was you.”

“Pierce,” said Austin. “I had no idea you were a vampire. Small world. Dave, this is Pierce, he guest lectures for me sometimes on nineteenth California government issues.”

“And this is Max, he…”

“Max,” said Austin as he held out his hand. “Good to see you. Thanks for helping out.”

“Austin,” said Max.

Dave looked at the Vampires then laughed. “Pierce. I know you. You were teaching American History at UC Berkley in the late 70’s. I took a couple of classes from you. You look like you haven’t aged a day. How old are you?”

Pierce smiled and shook Dave’s hand. “I’m 171, but who’s counting.”

“I was just going out for coffee,” said Austin as he looked at the carnage surrounding him. “You’re all welcome to come.”

The woman’s name is Lily. She had a lot of catching up to do so Dave gave her a pair of jeans and a shirt out of his wife’s closet, and they all headed out for coffee.

That’s all.

~ end

First published here in 2016

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Desert Winds

On the edge of the Sandia Mountains, My friends Amelia her husband Raul and I drove down the gravel road to the home of Ximena, an ancient woman who mostly lived in solitude with the company of the birds and the wind.

Ximena’s home was a large old adobe structure rimmed with bells and bushes of purple flowers. She greeted us at the door, as always wearing a long colorful skirt. Her black hair flowed down her back almost to her knees. Dark eyes smiled at us in a welcome greeting, as did her fangs. She is almost as ancient as Tellias and Eleora, and like them Ximena looks like a young college girl.

We came into the main room. Walls lined with books and crystals flanked part of the room with windows on the other side looking towards the mountains. We could smell the dried chiles rastas hanging in the kitchen. A red shouldered hawk perched on a wooden chair. It called out when it saw us.

“Maria, you still sing so sweetly,” I said to the bird. She gave me a cold stair then allowed me to pet her feathered head.

Maria the hawk had been around since I was a young woman, more than a hundred years. I wondered at times how she could live so long, then I stopped wondering and chalked it up to magic, love or pure mystery. It is what it is. That is how things work here in the land of magic.

A youngish man with dark hair and eyes like Ximena, but pale skin, came into the room. He was introduced to us as Kyle. But he wasn’t like us. I could feel his warmth as soon as he walked into the room.

Kyle was a man of many talents. He was a photographer, a teacher, a writer, an engineer and apparently a lover. After talking over wine and a light diner we also discovered Ximena’s young friend was also extremely opened minded.

He was also a young widow. One night left him alone with his dreams dead, but he kept going and kept at least a portion of the dreams and spark alive.

While Raul, Amelia and Ximena went to a back room to examine some old maps or something, Kyle and I went out to the porch. Bats flew about as the sounds of the bells filled the air.

Kyle asks me about my husband Teddy. I smiled shyly and told him how we’d met as kids and fallen in love a hundred years later. I think I’d always been in love with my husband on some level.

Then Kyle spoke of his lost love. “After Kayla, my wife, passed away everyone kept asking me if I’d go back. Over and over they’d ask the old what if question. You know, you can’t go back. I can’t bring her back. I will never forget her. She is part of me, but I live in the world of the living.”

“No ghost?” I had to ask (always thinking of obnoxious Nigel)

“Only a Vampire in the Southwest would ask that,” Kyle answered with a knowing smile.

“A Vampire anywhere would ask that. Don’t get me started on the ghosts I see all the time.”

“No ghost. Kayla moved on the night she died. That is a good thing.”

“Yes it is. You’re a wise man with a loving heart. In some circles that is a rare thing.”

He leaned against the rail. “I don’t know you except by reputation but I want to ask you a few thing, or at least see how you feel about a few things.”

“Okay,” I said.

“I’m in love with Ximena. I know what she is. I know how old she is. It doesn’t matter.”

I shrugged and laughed. “My 500 or so year old Grandmama is in love with a 35 year old. What are you, about 38?”

He smiled. I was correct. He was 38 and absolutely a delight – young, yet years ahead of most men his age.

“Dear Kyle, you also want me to tell you if I think it would be wise if you became a Vampire? Right?”

He smiled an uncomfortable hot blooded smile.

I said to him, “Kyle, you are in love with the cold wind under the moon and the sprint of night. She is an amazing being. I’ve always admired her. If you feel you can make a life out here with her then do it. But don’t lose yourself in her. Always be who you are, even after you become a Vampire. That is the only way it will work. If you try to be too much like her she will leave you, because she fell in love with you, not with herself.”

Raul and Ximena came out to join us with wine for Ryan and spiced blood for the rest of us.

Ximena whistled and Maria the red shouldered hawk came and landed on a table next to her hand. Ximena gave the bird a piece of meat she took from a bag in her pocket.

Into the night we talked until the sun came up and created unbelievably beautiful light and shadows on the mountains.

I could hear the wind whispering to the lovers:

The light

in dark eyes

promises kept

forever and

again

in our hearts

we love

we laugh

and we learn

to do it 

all

over 

again.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Uncle Bud’s House

Uncle Bud’s House

The whole Covid-19 pandemic thing hit my sister and I pretty hard. I was laid off from my job, my girlfriend kicked me out, and I moved back in with my parents. My sister Luna was finishing up her senior year in college online because nobody was allowed to take classed on campus. 

My name is Hawk, because, well, my parents are earthy crunchy organic well to do educated hippy types who didn’t want to conform to the norms when it came to putting traditional tags on their children. I’d started using my middle name Griffin, due to the fact that the name Hawk turned up in too many action and superhero movies and nobody took me seriously. I was tired of being asked if Hawk was my real name. It sucked.

Luna liked her name, which was good since her middle name was Gertrude, after Gertrude Stein.

One day in December, when I was trying to write a novel, and my sister was on break my parents suggested we get out of our rut and go stay on the coast in Uncle Bud’s house.

Uncle Bud’s house? That was new. Why hadn’t we ever heard of Uncle Bud’s house. Why hadn’t we heard that mom had inherited Uncle Bud’s house ten years ago? Mom just shrugged and said it slipped her mind. 

“It’s a beautiful place on the coast, surrounded by redwoods. I’ve been renting it out to vacationers in the summer. It’s a six hour drive but well worth it. The place is beautiful. Your Uncle Pete and I loved going there when we were kids. There’s beach access too.”

So to make a short story a little longer, two days later my parent’s packed us up with sage, healing crystals, homemade granola, oatmeal cookies, almond milk, and a key to the house.

On the way we stopped by a few wineries and picked up a couple of cases of really nice wine. In town a few miles from the house we got more groceries.

The house was beautiful. Again, we wondered why our parents never took us there. Once inside I set the crystals on the mantle, and Luna burned the sage to rid the place of any toxic vibes. I’d half expected a musty old place filled with dark old furniture. The place was contemporary and bright, all decorated in blues and yellow. I recognized the art on the wall as stuff my mom had painted when she was in high school. A few of the other paintings looked like my grandmother had painted them.

The phone worked. The Internet connection was strong. There was a drizzle of rain but no snow. Life was good.

That night as we were fixing spinach and lentil soup, we heard a noise coming from the back of the house. I looked down the hallway and saw a dark figure standing there.

“Oh my god,” said Luna. “Is that a nun?”

At the end of the hall stood a young woman in a black habit, her large brown eyes wide with fear. She screamed like someone in a horror movie, then vanished. Seriously, she vanished into thin air.

I looked at Luna. “What that a ghost?”

“I think so,” she whispered.

We burned more sage, finished making the soup, and opened a bottle of wine.

As we at dinner in the dining room we heard a sound in the kitchen. Someone was quietly singing. I didn’t recognize the song. 

Getting up to investigate was found a guy about my age standing by the kitchen sink. He was wearing jeans and a red flannel shirt. He looked over at me and smiled, then like the nun, he vanished.

“Holy shit,” said Luna. “How many other ghosts are in here?”

Despite the weirdness neither one of us were afraid. We could handle it.

Then there was a knock on the door. Just like in a horror movie. Maybe somebody had broken down and we’ll all be trapped together for the night. Maybe it would be some weird guy with a chain saw looking to collect more heads for his collection. Or maybe it would be our neighbors.

It was our neighbors. At the door were two people who introduced themselves as John and Mercy. They were brother and sister. Like us they were taking a break from Covid and school.

We shared our soup and the cornbread we’d made, and later a few more bottles of wine. John and Luna went for a moonlight walk on the beach while Mercy and I stayed inside.

“I’m sure you already saw Sister Antonia and Luke,” said Mercy.

She knew all about the ghosts. Apparently they’d been around for the past hundred years. Nobody knew who they were or where they came from. Mercy told me they were harmless. 

You know, I felt a sudden ease with Mercy. She said she graduated at UCLA. I told her I’d gone to UC Santa Barbara. We talked about the pandemic and tried to avoid politics. Then she kissed me, and I couldn’t stop kissing her back. 

The next morning I found myself alone with the other side of the bed cold. Mercy had left. So much for coffee in bed and another roll about.

Luna was downstairs making tea.

“Is Mercy still here?”

“She left. John?”

“Nope.”

“OK. Do you want breakfast?”

I scrambled up some tofu and made squash patties. Luna made blueberry muffins. 

“Hey, we have a bunch of muffins left. I’m bringing them over to Mercy and John.”

As we headed out the door was saw our neighbors in their front yard. They waved at us. I looked at Luna and sort of gave her a half laugh. It was cool. They weren’t too embarrassed to see us.

“You know Hawk, we’ve been here for three weeks and this is the first time we’ve been over here,” said Luna.

I knocked on the door. There was no answer. I knocked again. We walked around back to see if they were out there but there was nothing but a lone turkey vulture picking at a dead possum. 

“Mom would say that was a sign,” said Luna.

“Mom says everything is a sign,” I said.

The back door was cracked. I called inside, “John? Mercy? Hello?”

“Hawk. The kitchen is empty.”

Despite being brought up not to go where we haven’t been invited we went inside. The house was empty. I mean completely empty. Not a wine bottle, or a glass, or a beer can. Not a single stick of furniture, not a sleeping bag, no soap or shampoo in the bathrooms, or even toilet paper. The house was completely empty. We even checked the attic. It was empty.

“Well this is weird,” I said. 

“Son of a bitch,” said Luna. “They played us. I bet they’re over at our house right now stealing our computers.”

Nobody was at our house.

I called my mom and asked her if she knew anyone named John and Mercy.

“They lived next door. John was my summer boyfriend. Mercy was always flirting with your Uncle Pete.”

“Did either one of them have kids?”

“No, they’ve both died in 1977. John was going to UC Berkley and was hit by a car. Mercy was murdered by her boyfriend a few months later.”

“What did they look like.”

“Um, check the photo album on the bookshelf. There should be one marked 1976. We spent the entire summer there before we all went off to college.”

I thanked my mom but didn’t give her any details. 

That night we sat on our back deck sharing a bottle of wine and trying to digest the weirdness of the past few weeks. We sat without words for a while just listening to the frogs and crickets.

Luna tapped my arm. “Look,” she whispered.

Out in the yard was the nun, her head now bare, and her short hair adorned with a pink ribbon. She was in the arms of the man in the red plaid shirt. They slowly swayed to the sound of a song only they could hear. 

“I feel used,” I said.

“You think? Me too. If I’d had any idea, if mom and dad had any idea…,” said Luna.

“Do you think they’ll be back?”

“Fuck no. Their kind never come back. There is no way in Hell I’ll ever let any kids of mine come here, especially after they’re grown.”

The next morning we packed up my car and headed back to our parent’s house. Mom put the place on the market. It would sell quickly. Who wouldn’t want a beautiful Victorian house in the woods, close to town, and with beach access? 

Well, not Luna and me. 

~ end

Thank you for reading this short ghost story written with lightning fast speed over coffee this morning. For more ghosts, and far more interesting and true ghost stories do a search on this blog. You’ll thank me for it later. ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Food Supply

“I don’t care what they do but they start to mess with the food supply it pisses me off.”

I listened as my friend Howard ranted about people who don’t wear masks and believe in conspiracy theories.

We have friends who believe they can use the situation to their advantage but I’m with Howard on this one.

Howard is a big guy with big shoulders, big hands, big feet, a big voice, and big brown eyes and nobody in their right mind can resist those big brown eyes. He can also be incredibly scary if he wants to be. Nobody messes with Howard. So when Howard says wear a mask you wear a mask.

“I don’t want to go out to get something to eat and end up killing someone because they have a weakened system to Covid-19. People don’t just get over this thing. There are long lasting effects. Mental too if you think about it. This thing hits hard and scares people, not just people who get sick but people who live with them. Stress sours everything and everybody. Seriously, stress is a total appetite killer for me.”

As I listened to Howard I thought about how stupid some people were equating mask wearing with their rights. Rights for what? The right to make someone else sick? The right to get sick? What is so difficult about a mask? It isn’t like the old days where you had to be the same religion as everyone… oh, right, there are places where that is still expected. I’m sure some of the people protesting masks are like that thinking that thoughts and prayers and waving their hands up in the air will save them. Fat chance. Howard and I have been around for long enough to know that will never happen. You have to save yourself. You can’t depend on anyone or anything else to do it for you.

“Why do we always end up taking care of things? You know we always do. What makes it a real pisser is that they never even know.”

“That isn’t a bad thing Howard. Would you want them to know?”

“I see your point. You going out tonight?”

“I’m staying in. Just got a case of blood from Dave’s Bottle Shop. I got the good stuff. What to say in with me.”

“Sure. Thanks. I didn’t want to deal with anyone tonight anyway.”

So here we were, just two Vampires hanging out at home like everyone else. Weird times, but we’ll get through it. At least I hope we will.

~ end

Short Story Sunday: Father Paul

She remembered when he was just in high school. His family lived next door in an old ranch house with a rabbit warren of added on rooms. There were six Jackson kids. Paul was the peacemaker, the child of compassion, and the smartest of the bunch. He went to the local all boys’ Catholic high school then on to get a doctorate in theology and the priesthood.

Elizabeth never questioned his faith or his decision to enter the priesthood. There would be those who would question what they could not understand. Paul just took it as part of the job.

In turn Paul never questioned Elizabeth. He certainly asked questions but never judged. He just accepted what neither one of them could change. Nor did he ask her if she was afraid of eternal damnation of her soul or her life in the shadows.

Now years after they met they sat together. At the age of 54 his hair was turning gray and crows feet crinkled at the edges of his eyes when he laughed. At 195 years she looked the same as the day he met her in 1975 – a beautiful vision for any young man, including the teenage Paul.

The two old friends walked along the path in the oak forest together. Elizabeth took Paul’s arm.

“You always accepted me as I am. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that.”

“Same here.”

“Stop.” She then embraced him. It was a warm day but her embrace was like ice to him. “I mean it Paul.”

He never used the word Vampire when he thought of her. She was what she was. Maybe a creature of evil but he didn’t know that for sure. Sure she drank the blood of others but that was nothing compared to some of the evil he’d seen in the world. At the same time he feared for his own soul when he was with her but he couldn’t resist. It wasn’t romantic or sexual at all. She’d always been there for him, unconditional. But that wasn’t it. She drew him in as if she was the only one who knew his heart and soul – as if she owned him.

Elizabeth let him go and then gave him a knowing smile. “I understand it is sometimes trying to have your own Vampire. You handle it well. Oh, yes, by the way, I’m having a party next weekend. You know, just cocktails and finger food. I want you to meet my boyfriend Austin. He is like you, not a priest, but warm, like you. You know what I mean. Forbidden love. Who would have thought. But you know how that is.”

“Uh, sure. A boyfriend? Sure. Will Vampires be there?”

“Of course. No worries. You know most of them.”

Paul was waiting for lightning to strike but it never did – never with Elizabeth.

 

 

To be continued….

This is the 14th story in the Austin and Elizabeth (The Hunter) series. For more on the Austin and Elizabeth Stories – the complete set CLICK HERE.

By the way this was first published  in 2017. I attempted to write a new  Austin and Elizabeth (and Grammy) story today but my computer is on the blink. The mouse functions and keyboard  are flipping out. With any luck I’ll have something new later today. ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: Bernie Showers in France

Bernie Showers in France

A short story by Aurora Jean Alexander

Bernie Watson, a self-acclaimed womanizer, always wanted to see Paris. One day he managed to travel to France after tediously scraping up the money he needed for the trip. In his imagination, Bernie saw himself sitting in the first class, sipping champagne and enjoying movies, a beautiful woman next to him. He was dreaming about standing on the balcony of a 5-star hotel with a breathtaking view over the city until he could see the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe from far.

Reality looked a bit different. Bernie found himself in the middle row of economy, helplessly jammed between an angry tourist at the end of his vacation and a permanently eating eighty-year-old on the other side, with an ancient Pekinese on her lap.

When he arrived at the hotel, he found that the two-star hotel he had made reservations, was even older than he had suspected from the pictures. It was located in the most run-down quarter of the city. Bernie now wasn’t the most hygiene-fanatic on Earth, but after a trip of roughly 9 hours in an airplane, he still felt the need to shower. Usually, he would have used baby wipes to clean the worst, but they had removed them at the customs; the heavy accent of the man explaining the reason made it impossible for Bernie to understand, and he didn’t know where to buy them in France.

He undressed and stood in front of the mirror, looking at his body with appreciation. He didn’t see the pale, almost sick-looking skin that hadn’t seen the sun in the past forty-five years, the slightly protruding stomach, the flat ass, and the wobbly arms which all showed that he hadn’t seen a gym from up close for decades. Also, he didn’t see the missing hair on his lower chest that made his torso look like he was regularly wearing a bra…. But he found himself very attractive, and to him, that was enough, after all, only his own opinion was important.

He climbed into the shower cabin and found himself facing an old construction with two faucets, on one it said C, which he immediately concluded was ‘cold,’ while the other one said F, which he figured, must be the opposite… hot, or (f)arm with a typo… he was in France, after all.

Full of energy, he turned the ‘Farm’ and found himself showered with an icy stream of brown lava… as it was normal in an old building in Europe when the water fuses had not been used for a while.

Immediately ‘Louis XIV,’ his Sun King, resentfully withdrew into his hunting lodge… Bernie, of course, caressed his little king, knowing he had to be careful… after all, he was utterly dependent on his Sun King’s moods.

He, therefore, mixed himself a decently comfortable water temperature and continued showering… until someone in another room flushed the toilet…

In these old hotels, this process had an immediate effect on the water temperature by removing the complete cold water from Bernie’s shower within nanoseconds… He found himself in the boiling hot shower cabin. The door which had only jammed from the outside was impossible to open from the inside. Also, he had no idea that the re-fill of an old toilet tank in a two-hundred-year-old hotel room needed about 25 minutes.

Bernie, while having the hot brownish lava pelted onto his head, he realized, he had only one hand to turn off both faucets! With the other hand, he had to protect his Sun King as well as possible! Because in this country, where he was unable to speak the language, he would not be able to talk someone into helping him with his injured, burned sun king…

 

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(This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.)

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Aurora Jean Alexander is the author of Demon Tracker. She also runs the blog Writer’s Treasure Chest – A blog for authors, about authors, written by an author. Check it out for interesting author interviews, books, and more about the art of writing.

Aurora Jean is one of my oldest and dearest blogging friends. I’m happy to share her work today.

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~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Tangled Tales