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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I still have the note.

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

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

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

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

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

“My Uncle Ray. I miss him.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think it was.

 

~ End

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Burning Question #12: Woodland Creatures

My dog lives to bark at the same group of deer who walk behind my house every morning. I don’t know if she loves them or thinks she is protecting us. Maybe a bit of both. Maybe she just wants to eat them. Who doesn’t like venison jerky?

I love watching the deer. They’re lovely with their brown gold hair and big eyes. What I don’t appreciate is the big buck who comes down my street at night and eats the roses in my front yard. But hey, if you live by a wildlife area you live with wildlife. That includes those times when they’re jerks (don’t even get me started on the turkeys.)

So, I accidentally posted today’s Burning Question a few days early, so here is another one because, after all, it is Saturday.

Burning Question #12: Are Deer Dear?

Have a good Memorial Day Weekend everyone. Have fun. Be safe. Remember those who gave their lives for us.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: A Change of Heart

A Change of Heart

The Demon sat on the roof of the house wondering what to do next. She looked around wondering how they put on the roof with such a steep pitch. 12/12 she figured. Standing up she stretched out her leathery wings and brushed back her hair with claw tipped fingers.

It wasn’t like she didn’t know her job. It wasn’t like she wasn’t trained right. It wasn’t like everything she was ever to be was to be wasn’t drilled into her head for centuries.

Flying to the next yard over she found, the handsome Vampire sitting in a chair, with a goblet of blood and his Nook. She knew him. He would know what to do. He would help.

“I don’t want to do this anymore,” the Demon told the Vampire.

“What do you mean?” He glared at her with no light in his eyes.

“I am so frustrated with everything. I want to open an art gallery, the kind with pictures of seascapes and sunflowers. I want to paint and draw, all the while promoting up and coming artists. I’ve got a knack for marketing so I know I could make it work.”

“What sort of stupid trick is this?”

“No trick. I just…I just don’t know how to be…to get out of my contract. I can’t very well ask my boss about it.”

“Why not?”

“I’d be sent back into the fire as a pitch fork handler. I’d never see the light of day again.” She looked into his ocean colored eyes with her yellow-orange orbs. “You’re a Vampire so you don’t know what it is like to have someone own your very being. I’m not my own creature. The Master of Evil owns me. Damn it. This is not what I want. It is not who I want to be.”

“Do any of your peers feel this way?”

“No. They’re happy. They’re content. Seriously what is wrong with me? Who wouldn’t want to spend the day convincing people to have affairs, feel crazy, commit murder and abuse elderly people and twist the necks of animals until they die a slow and painful death. The rush of it all is exhilarating, like the best sex anyone could every have. I mean who wouldn’t want that? Who wouldn’t want the rush and thrill of convincing someone to sell their soul? That is the ultimate. Damn, do you know how many souls I’ve taken to my Master. Millions. And you know what? You know what Vampire? I’m tired of it. I never liked it in the first place. OK I did for a while but after a couple of thousand years it is getting old. Really old.”

He rolled up his sleeve and showed her an ugly scar. “Demon, this is from your last visit. You nearly took my arm off. I was in bed for three weeks because of your poison.”

“I’m sorry. I really am. You have to believe me.”

He glared at her, hate filled his voice, “I can’t believe a word you say.”

She stood in front of him looking into his handsome face. There was no soul she could tempt. There was no blood she could spill. Taking a step towards him the Demon held out her hand. “You could teach me,”

“No. It wouldn’t be a good idea.”

“I love you.”

“You need to go. Now.”

She stood looking at his face. If she had been created with the ability to shed tears she would have, but she could only stare at him in disbelief with yellow-orange eyes.

“I love you.”

“Go.”

Unfolding her wings she flew off, out over the bay, over the city. There were so much damage she could do to hearts and souls down there, but her own heart wasn’t in it anymore.

Turning towards the ocean she flew out, then upwards towards the night, trying to imagine what it would be like to be accepted for what she was not.

~ End

2015 Juliette Kings

 

When in doubt wear a dress

“I’m not going to crawl under a building again. It is going to be a hundred degrees out today. That is bad enough if you’re a regular person but we’re Vampires. Remember? Aaron?”

I have five siblings – all male. I am the youngest of the brood. Aaron is smack in the middle.

When I arrived at his downtown law office I was greeted by Aaron and our brother Val (short for Valentine). Val is between Aaron and me. I’d brought my almost sixteen year old daughter Clara with me.

“Wear a dress,” I told her.

“Why?”, she had to ask. They always have to ask.

“So your Uncle Aaron won’t ask you to do anything. So he won’t ask you to crawl under a building or into an attic crawl space, or between a wall or into a sewer. You know how he is.”

When we were small, young Vampires in the American West, my brother’s had great fun sending their tiny little sister into small spaces. Be it a hole in a tree or a hole in the side of a building, in I’d go.

Consequently we ended up knowing everything about everyone in the growing city in which we lived. We also knew where all the creepers were, and we had a lot of scary fun tormenting them.

The Creepers, as we called them, were a type of, or more of a Vampire of a certain culture (not ours.) Shadow Creepers were Vampires who were content being ghouls who lurk in the shadows and get all overly happy about finding blood. They’re like those socially awkward kids or the intense annoying kids my daughter goes to school with. They aren’t what we call Modern Vampires. They’re disgusting.

And since they tended to be nasty but awkward we took it upon ourselves to annoy them.

While we slept in real houses and in real beds, the Shadow Creepers tended to search out basements, attics, crypts and holes in the riverbank or in the bottom of ;rage paddle boats. We’d search them out and start our childish torments.

One of our favorite activities would be to go into their lairs and make loud sucking noises. Shadow Creepers have such disgusting eating habits. When they’d wake we’d hiss and scream at them. Of course we’d do other things to them. Mean things. Then again, we knew most of them didn’t even have souls. Plus they’re the ones, in our opinion, who give Vampires a bad name.

Even now the few who remain hate us with a passion. Oh well. They could change, and some of them have, but most of them choose to be nasty horrible beings.

Oh, I forgot, and the absolutely worst is running into a Creeper I used to know back in another century. Ugh. Talk about uncomfortable.

Which takes us to present day when one of them shows up occasionally after being found asleep or awakened from a hundred year sleep.

Over the past few years I’ve been asked to go check them out. Aaron is an attorney so for some reason people come to him when they find these unsavory creatures.

I end up covered with dirt and in the face of some dried up husk of an animated corpse of a Vampire. No self-respecting Vampire would ever ever end up like that on purpose. Plus they always act like it is still the nineteenth century. Wake up assholes, that isn’t cute anymore. It doesn’t make you look smart or mysterious. It just makes you look stupid and creepy.

It is always an unpleasant experience finding Shadow Creepers and I’d just rather call a Vampire Hunter to take them out. You know, like when you call someone to get rid of the wasp next under your front porch.

My brothers were both in a good mood. They just wanted to go for lunch and to the art museum. Thank goodness. It was a lovely diversion. The dresses worked out just fine.

Wishing you all a week of pleasant diversions and remember your sun screen.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: The Hunter

night walk

The Hunter

A short story from Juliette Kings

 

“We pumped quite a bit of blood out of your stomach. We’re not sure where it came from.”

She heard the words but was the noise in her head was still loud…

“Your heart had stopped beating. You weren’t breathing. You were cold.”

A hospital bed. She was in a bed hooked up to equipment. Her throat hurt.

“We still can’t get your body temperature up to normal and your heart beat is extremely slow.”

She’d been found in a room of an abandoned house wearing nothing but a black silk cocktail dress and black high heeled sandals. The nails on her hands and feet were painted silver. Aside from that there was no jewelry, no purse, no identification. The man she’d been with had received minor injuries and would be in soon to see her. He said he was her boyfriend. Panic started to set in but she didn’t show it.

“Do you remember anything?”

“Not a lot.” She lied. She had remembered almost everything, despite the headache. The man called Austin had wanted to show her a house he was remodeling. He specialized in renovating Victorians and older historic homes. It was charming. It was haunted. “Is Austin alright?”

“He had a few stitches in his forehead, but yes, he is doing fine.”

“We left the club where we met. I mean, it wasn’t a hook up, we’d been seeing each other for a while. We’re friends. He told me about his work restoring old homes. I own some property I was thinking of having restored…He took me to a house he owns. It’s old, nobody lives there. A Queen Ann style Victorian. Beautiful. He showed me around and we ended up in an upstairs room.” She didn’t tell him of the phantoms and the screams that nearly burst her ear drums. She paused, and glanced at the needle in her arm. “Alright, we did fool around some. But we both started to feel really sick. He passed out first. I tried to wake him. I think we were drugged at the bar. Is he ok?”

“I’m fine sweetheart.” In the door stood a man with a bandage on his forehead. His brown eyes met her blue with almost a spark of both passion and hate. He smiled at the doctor.

“She’s a vampire and I’m a vampire hunter. I had no idea the house was haunted when I took her there. Sorry, it’s along running joke between us. Isn’t it Elizabeth?”

Her eyes met his again. A hunter hunting the huntress. “Is that all I am to you?”

He sat next on the edge of the bed and took her cold hand. “You need to warm up dear or they’ll never let you out of here. I know, it takes a lot of effort to keep your heart beating for those machines. You don’t want them thinking you’re dead.”

To think she was starting to fall in love with this man.

“I thought you were going to kill me last night but you saved my life. Why’d you do that Elizabeth?

Doctor Davis spoke up. “What is going on here?”

Austin smiled and spoke in a quiet calming voice. “I’m sorry for the confusion. We have our own language. We had a fight. She wasn’t going to kill me. Just an expression. She was angry. You know, I’m a typical guy. I did typical stupid guy stuff. We went to the house and like she said, we were both feeling sick. Then someone came in and mugged us. She saved me. I don’t know how, but she defended me. It was too dark to tell what was going on. We had a tumultuous relationship but we’re not violent, just a little dramatic.”

“He’d never touch me.” Elizabeth looked back at Austin. “The ones who attacked us… I had no idea. I’ve never experienced anything like that.”

“I thought you’d know.”

“I don’t.”

“Huh. Interesting.”

They both talked to the police about what had happened. Their story was the same. They’d gone to a house he owned, it was unoccupied, they were attacked. They both had traces of an airborne toxin in their systems.

Elizabeth was released into Austin’s care. She’d told him she’d call a taxi but he insisted on bringing her home.

On the way he talked. She sat still, feeling sick, trying to regain her energy. The morning sun burned her eyes even through the fog.

“So my building, the house we were in last night is haunted. Those were ghosts.”

Elizabeth glanced over at him, then looked away. “Yes, they were ghosts. I know someone who can get rid of them for you. He’s good and his prices are reasonable.”

“You know Elizabeth, I’ve found at least a dozen of your kind, vampires, in the basements of abandoned old buildings I’ve purchased for restoration. They weren’t like you. They were like rats.”

“I’m not like them. I don’t live in the shadows or in a crypt. I don’t sleep in a coffin. Most of us aren’t like your rats. We live normal lives.”

“When were you born?”

“1834. I’ve been a vampire since 1853. How did you know?”

He gave her a mean smile. “Call it a 6th sense. My grandfather hunted vampires. It’s in my blood, no pun intended.”

They arrived at her house. He was impressed. A beautiful craftsman style, maybe 2,500 square feet, nice old neighborhood. Inside the woodwork was beautiful. Her decorating was a combination of period and modern. Nice.

“You can go,” she told him.

“Show me around. This place is great.”

“I’m the original owner. 1905.”

As she showed him around Austin noticed a diploma in her office. “You didn’t tell me you were an attorney. Go figure.”

“I told you I consulted for the Justice Department. There is no shame in what I do.”

The house was impressive as was the vampire who lived in it. “Was that my blood they pumped out of your stomach?”

“Most of it. Don’t worry, you won’t turn into a Vampire. I just took maybe a pint.”

Austin noticed a mirror on the wall. He took Elizabeth by the shoulders and turned her around to face it. He could see his own reflection but hers was just a dim shadow.

“Look at my eyes, in the mirror. Look at my eyes,” she told him.

Their eyes locked in the glass. Her image became clear. He laughed. It wasn’t the sarcastic bitter laugh she’d heard all morning. This was joy.

“Elizabeth, will you be alright if I leave you?”

“You aren’t going to kill me?”

“Not today.”

“Then when? When will you be back to cut out my heart and cut off my head.”

“Do you want to go out sometime on a real date?”

“You’re scaring me Austin.”

“I know. I’ll pick you up tomorrow around 8:00. It should be dark by then. Wear something nice.”

She watched through the window as he drove away. Her heart had stopped beating. She wasn’t breathing. In the refrigerator was a bottle of blood. She was starving. Her head was light but that was because of him.

Austin drove away with a smile on his face. What a rush. He wasn’t sure what tomorrow would bring. Either he’d kill her or he’d marry her. That is, if she didn’t kill him first.

 

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Astounding and Astonishing Photos from Mars

NASA scientists were astonished and astounded by a Martian rock resembling a jelly doughnut that seemed to appear out of nowhere.

Earlier this month The Opportunity rover earlier took a photo of a fairly flat surface then went back later and PRESTO there was a rock where no rock was before AND it was shaped like a doughnut. And we all know that everybody likes doughnuts!

At first it was thought that the wheels of the rover had kicked up the rock when turning around, however there might be something else going on. This morning when the rover went back it found a FRESH SPRINKLE doughnut.

The jelly doughnut rock is high in sulfur and magnesium, and scientists are still trying to figure out why. The other rock is high in sugar, fat and chocolate – no surprise there.

Now Opportunity has gone in search of coffee. I’ll keep you posted on any additional findings.mars donut

—————

NASA has yet to officially confirm the existence of little green cats, Vampires or missing pilots on Mars – but we know the truth.

___________

For more on space click on the links below:

Astonishing Images of Life on Mars

Spaced Out – Methane on Mars

Vampires, Werewolves, Ghosts and Pluto – the brilliant logic of youth

Musings on Gassy Planets, High School and Uncle Max

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman