Halloween is Almost Here (more musings and random thoughts)

Halloween is almost here

Ghosts and Goblins yell and cheer,

Witches drink their Bat Eye Beer

Halloween is almost here.

 

halloween cat 3

 

At the crack of dawn this morning, actually about an hour before, I looked out on my deck to find two ghosts holding coffee mugs and savoring the first stirrings of the woodland creatures who live in my yard and behind my house (along with the sounds of fire truck sirens, trucks and a random dog bark or two.) I watched my translucent friends put their heads together in close conversation, occasionally laughing or using hand gestures.

These ghosts have discarded any old ideas of white sheets and hollow eyed wails. They leave that for others. Sure they can haunt the crap out of anyone and show their form in death (a rather violent image, especially for the one called Mary) but they usually choose not to.

He has pale skin and dark, almost black glossy hair that layers around his face. She has long reddish brown hair that she lets blow in the ghostly winds that most of us can’t feel.

If it was any other pair of ghosts I would have chased them off, but these two are mine. At least mine because they live in my space. I usually don’t like ghosts or anything without a body, but there are always exceptions.

I didn’t interfere with their reveries. I’d pick up the cups later. That is the empty cups they fill with their phantom coffee. I had other things on my mind.

Earlier my husband Teddy had come home with a scratch across his handsome face. Three scratches from fingernails to be exact and bites in various places.

He’d been called to see about a rare pocket watch a client of his was looking for. When he arrived at the old Victorian he discovered that the apartment was below street level (the original street level.)

The door was answered by a woman of shocking appearance. She was bloated like a dead thing that had been out in the sun. Her eyes were sunken and rimmed with pale pinkish red. Despite her bony frame the fashionable black dress she wore strained at the seams. White blonde hair tangled around her face. Blood caked around the corners of her mouth and on the cuticles of her fingernails.

He recognized her, barely. In 1934 he’d spent two weeks with her on Catalina Island. People thought she was a film star with her Jean Harlow looks and beautiful clothes. So much for happy memories.

She told him that now she fed on transients and outcasts who wouldn’t be missed. Rather than taking a pint or a quart here and there she sucked them dry. Nobody would miss them or care. It always looked like natural causes anyway. Then she’d sleep it off for a week or two and start again.

Teddy, being the man he is and a Vampire with a social conscience tried to tell her that what she was doing was not acceptable. Bad move Teddy. She attacked him, screeching that she never asked to be a Vampire. She didn’t choose that life. She had become isolated as those she preyed upon.

As she fled into the night  The young man who made the nicely decorated basement apartment at home was in a deep sleep. He wasn’t someone off the grid but someone who’d left his bedroom window open and a Vampire climbed in. Teddy had the decency to erase any bad memories the young man might have had. Then Teddy called a Vampire Hunter to take care of his old friend. Teddy didn’t have the stomach to do it himself.

We talked about it for a while and like so many things it just seemed sad. Too many things seem sad.

Halloween is almost here but we’re already up to our eyeballs in scary shit, including a school shooting scare and other stupid stuff.

But then again like all families we’re busy to the point where we can’t stop and even think about anything much. It is like this all the time. Halloween brings a flood of activity. A party at my house on Friday. A party on Saturday. A skate meet on Sunday. A dozen other things including school and work are squeezed in between. Then we start all over again.

But I’ll make it a point to stop and sip my coffee and watch the sunrise.  And tomorrow we’ll carve those pumpkins I’ve been gathering on my front porch!

 

Halloween is almost here

Werewolves howling is so near,

Zombie looking for his ear,

Halloween is almost here.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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This little adventure was first posted here in 2014. I’ll be back with new stories and adventures shortly.  

History

“I was tired of Rome. When the first opportunity came up to go to Britain I took it. It was sometime around 78 or 79 AD. My timeline is a little fuzzy on that. I had no idea where I was going or that I’d meet the love of my life and some of the best friends I’ve ever had there. There was nobody like me in Rome. I was alone. I’d always been alone as long as I could remember, since I was a small child. I’d met other Vampires, but they weren’t like me. They were distant and fearful, living in the shadows. I was almost a demigod. Imagine that, and here I am, an old man, living on a farm by a river in California.”

Tellias didn’t look like an old man. He looked about nineteen or maybe twenty. Today Tellias was wearing yellow flip flops, black tuxedo pants, an orange and brown work shirt with the name Lloyd embroidered above the pocket, and his 1966 Rolex Submariner. His white blonde hair was tucked behind his ear.

We were in my brother Aaron’s office,  a restored Italianate mansion built in the 1870’s. Aaron has a law practice. Today his cohort and friend (if you could call it that) Austin Durant was there. Austin Durant is a history professor but he also restores old building. He is also a Vampire Hunter. This is where it can get complicated.

Durant works with Aaron to rid the world of Shadow Creepers, the Vampires who have no souls, and/or no redeeming value to society. They’re the ones who can’t control themselves, cause problems, or just fill out walls and craw spaces with their dried out crusty nasty barely animated corpses. Sometimes I begrudgingly help them out.

I know, I’ve been distracted… I’d stopped by with Eleora and Tellias, the ancient Vampires that I keep an eye on. My great great great great Grandmaman Lola was also along.

Austin was enchanted by the stories. When I first met Austin he tended to be a little tense being the only non-Vampire in the house, but by now he knew we wouldn’t harm him. Why would we?

I went to the kitchen to make tea, and check my email. Eventually Austin met me in their. I poured him a cup and we chatted a bit while we watched the storm outside.

“When I think of all of the history you and your family has experienced, it is just mind boggling,” said Austin.

“We have seen a lot. Sometimes too much.”

Lola came in and got a glass of water. She flirted a bit with Austin then moved on. Nobody would pick her out as a Vampire with her wavy brown hair, jeans and a sweater. Sometimes she walked with a slight limp, but otherwise she looked your average twenty five year old woman.

After she’d left Austin asked (in almost a whisper), “How old is she?”

“Lola is six hundred and seventy five years old. She was born the same year as Geoffrey Chaucer. Same day too. When is your birthday Austin?”

“July 5.”

“You have the same birthday as P.T. Barnum. It seems fitting doesn’t it. You’re a historian and a Vampire Hunter. That makes you sort of a purveyor of freaks and important facts nobody wants to understand.”

“How…”

“You have the same birthday as my daughter. She was born July 5th, 1999.”

“Is she, your daughter a Vampire? Your kids are Vampires like Aaron’s kids aren’t they?”

“Of course they are.  By the way, I have the same birthday as Weird Al but I’m exactly a hundred years older than he is.”

“You were around during the California Gold Rush.”

“Right after the Gold Rush. My husband Teddy was born on the Panama Peninsula when his parents were on their way to California in 1849. They were among the first. My brother Max was born in Sacramento a few weeks after Teddy’s parents and my parents arrived. Aaron was born in 1854. I came along in 1859. Our other brothers Andy and Val were also born in the 1850’s. 1851 and 1858. We were a big family of little Vampires. I suppose we were around during the tail end of the Gold Rush, kind of sort of. I vaguely remember adults talking about the war, you know the Civil War. My big memories are more about the city growing up around us, floods, fires, the art museum, and the railroad. The rail road was big. Oh, and I remember then the State Capitol building went up. That was glorious fun. We had roller skates too, for indoors. The streets weren’t good enough for street skates.”

“You skated?”

“Yes, we skated.”

“I know all of this, or most of what you’re telling me, but when I hear it from you…when I hear it from you, it’s like…I don’t know. It’s extraordinary. The things you’ve seen…”

“Austin, don’t have too much adoration for us. You have your own extraordinary talents and experiences.”

Dear Eleora blasted into the room, twirling her red circle skirt, and singing something that sounded like a long lost Motown song. She kissed my cheek, then kissed Austin on the cheek.

“Would you like some tea sweetie?” I asked her.

“Not right now, but when you’re done with yours come back and join us, and bring Mr. Austin with you.” Then she fluttered out of the room.

“She is the wife of Tellias, right?”

“Yes she is. I’m not sure if they ever were formally married but they’ve been together since he arrived in Britain from Rome.”

“How old are they?”

“Over two thousand years, but nobody knows for sure. We believe she is older, but we don’t ask.”

“They look like teenagers.”

“They act like old people. They are old people.”

We finished our tea and got back to the others. I took all of my elders home. Aaron and Austin got to work on some restoration and nasty ghoul extraction they’d been working on.

One day I might sit down with Austin and tell him all of my tales of bygone days. Then again, I think he just might get depressed when he finds out that nobody ever learns from their mistakes. Nobody listens to reason, or cautionary tales, or cares about anything in the past or in the future. Then again, I might be wrong.

It doesn’t matter how old someone is, or how young, but how they see the world. It is how they choose to see the world.

I tell my kids that. My now legally adult children. They seem so young, because they are. And of course, they keep me young as well – all 159 years of me.

Stay young. Share stories. Live well. Learn from your mistakes, and from your success, and from each other.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Warmth

Warmth
(an Austin and Elizabeth Story)

“Your hand is cold.”

Austin always said that. He couldn’t help it. It was a reflex from years of holding hands with women who had warm hands. Warm hands and cold hearts.

Elizabeth smiled and lifted his hand to her cool lips. “I love you,” she said quietly, almost a whisper.

“Love you too,” he said. Then he his lips found hers. Suddenly a thought his his brain. She’d been alive for almost two hundred years. She’d been dead for almost that long. Well, sort of dead. Kind of dead and then alive again. Loving a Vampire was weird to say the least.

She’d started to wear socks to bed when Austin spent the night least she wake him with cold feet. But then he told her no. He wanted her to be who she was.

Still, he couldn’t help but check his neck in the mirror in the mornings for marks, or his wrists. He couldn’t help but overhear her on the phone with her friends, with a sweet laugh as she talked about meeting up for a hunt. She’d turn away or take her phone outside.

She’d once asked him, “Why do you hunt us. We don’t hurt anyone.”

He couldn’t answer honestly. He hunted the ones who could hurt, would hurt, or did hurt. Austin let the other alone. In this age of being away of the differences of others he had learned, that even when dealing with Vampires and god only knows what other kind of weird things were out there he had to take everyone on an individual basis. Well, almost everyone.

They cuddled on the couch under a blanket, with a bottle of wine, as they watched Crazy Rich Asians. 

He kissed her cheek. It seemed a little warm. Maybe. Sort of. It didn’t matter.

~ end

 

Click here for more Austin and Elizabeth Stories (The Hunter Series.)

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Conversion

Conversion
(An Austin and Elizabeth Story)

“Durant, we found something.”

“What do you mean you found something?”

“Live dead bodies.”

“Vampires?”

“Yes, vampires. Happy fucking Halloween.”

“I’ll be right there.”

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re a vampire.”

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

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

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

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

“No. They make me sick.”

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

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

“New?”

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

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

“You’re harsh.”

“I am realistic.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do it now,” hissed Aaron.

Austin started the chainsaw and cut off their heads.

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

We no not wat we do

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

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

In the hand of the man was a holly branch.

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

The bodies turned to dust before their eyes.

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

“You have a shop vac don’t you?”

“Man, you’re cold. No pun intended.”

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

“Maybe I should believe,” said Aaron.

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

 

~ end

Tangled Tales

For more Austin and Elizabeth adventures CLICK here.

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

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Mail Order House

Spring semester was supposed to start January 18. Maybe he’d lodge his leg out of the hole in the attic before then. His first class had a wait list of twelve, but he was sure at least five wouldn’t show so at least five wait list students would get in. No show, no class.

Why the Hell was he thinking of that right now. There were Vampires, or at least dried up husks of old Vampires wrapped in blankets four feet from him. Damn, he’d hoped they were dead enough not to smell the blood coming out of the cut on his leg.

The first class was titled “Major Problems in US History.” Fuck, that was fitting and timely. Every morning he wished the news would just go away. He wished he could go should on the streets, on Fox News, NPR, CNN, Buzz Feed, The Washington Post, and every crazy ass news outlet that Vampires, Werewolves, and Ghosts were real. But he didn’t. The ACLU would be all over it, and God only knows who else to give them equal rights because, after all, they are human and American citizens. They vote. Fuck. His leg ached.

Austin worked three jobs. There wasn’t any reason for it, he just did. First and foremost he was a History Professor at the local college. Second he was a contractor who restored historic buildings. Third, like his granny, he was a Vampire Hunter. The Vampire Hunter occupation wasn’t by choice. It just sort of happened. It was in his blood like, well, being a Vampire is in the blood of one of them.

He should have been home in bed with his wife, while the kids were up early watching cartoons. Only there was no wife or kids. There should have been. What he did have were a couple of recently adopted shelter cats named David and Crosby. The requirement was that the two Tom cats had to be adopted together. David was a large black and white tuxedo cat with a sweet disposition. Crosby was a skinny orange cat with a stub tail and a loud happy voice. It was love at first sight. They were five years old, so he figured he had at least another ten to fifteen years with them if they didn’t run in front of a car or get eaten by a coyote. He’d never seen a coyote in his neighborhood but he’d seen raccoons plenty of times. He thought of the movie “Lady Bird.” Part of it was filmed in his neighborhood, or at least a few blocks from there.

The house he was in was out in Fair Oaks. It was a mail order kit house built in 1915 complete with all sorts of fun features, including the river rock chimney. He’d purchased it for restoration and sale as a single family home. Over the years it had been turned into a flop house, then apartments, then a total mess. This house was not unique, but it was still special.

A burst of pain shot up from Austin’s right foot to his hip. He closed his eyes tight, then opened them only to see a single eye looking at him. The caramel brown was like a light shining out from a partially veiled face. The face was like dried bark. The eye was alive and fresh.

“What?” he said to the husk of a woman. “Are you going to eat me?”

A sound like grinding, or maybe cracking paper filled his ears as the Vampire lifted her arm then held out her hand.

“Take my hand,” she whispered in a barely audible voice.

Austin put his hand on the hilt of his knife and took the think dried out hand.

She pulled him up and out of the hole. It reminded him of when he was a child and his dad had pulled him out of the lake after he’d called out of their boat.

The Vampire touched his injured leg then licked the blood off of her fingers. Her face began to turn soft and almost glowed. She became beautiful before his eyes.

“I saved you,” she said to Austin. “I will not drink your blood but you must do me a favor.”

“What?” Austin asked. He knew about Vampire favors. He knew he couldn’t trust them.

“Cut off the heads of the other two Vampires. They’re no good. They are the reason I’m here. Then drive me to a place a few miles from here. The man is now old but he will remember me. He is my brother.”

“How long have you been up here?” Austin asked.

“Since 1963.”

Austin dropped her off then headed to the hospital to get thirty two stitches in his leg. His girlfriend Elizabeth met him there.

She put her cold Vampire hand on his forehead, then kissed his lips with hers. He wondered if those lips had been on somebody else’s neck that night. Then he put the thought from his head.

“I took an Uber over. I’ll drive your car home.”

Later that day he woke in his own bed. Elizabeth was sitting in the window seat reading a book.

“Did you hunt tonight Elizabeth?”

“You need to get some rest. Do you need any pain killers?” she answered.

Austin did fall asleep with dreams of strange events in American history. He’d make sure to add something about mail order homes in at least one of his lectures this semester. He’d skip the part about Vampires.

~ end

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Click HERE for more Austin and Elizabeth Stories

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Heal Thyself (an Austin and Elizabeth Story)

It wasn’t just a cold. It was a body full of aches, gallons of snot, a cough, sneezing, and a sore throat, and an urge to text everyone he knew and tell them that he was never coming back.

Austin heard a tap on the door, then he knew someone was inside.

“Hey, sweetie. I brought you some soup, and tea,” a female voice said at the bottom of the stairs.

Austin couldn’t bring himself out of bed. “Elizabeth. Come upstairs.”

She put the soup in the kitchen and went up to see Austin. He’d all but missed Thanksgiving. It was Sunday afternoon. School started Monday morning.

He’d missed her. They’d hardly been seeing each other. He was teaching, working on his house renovations, and working on the side as a Vampire Hunter.

She had her own business and busy schedule, and she was a Vampire.

It worked. Sort of. He trusted her, most of the time. She didn’t trust him, or at least he didn’t think so. But they were trying.

When Elizabeth arrived in Austin’s bedroom she sat next to him and put a cool hand on his head.

“That feels great,” he whispered.

She kissed his forehead, slipped off her clothes, and crawled into bed with him. He fell asleep wrapped in a warm blanket and a cool Vampire.

Several hours later he woke up feeling  great. Elizabeth lay next to him, as quiet as death.

The only thing that hurt was his neck. He saw blood on the pillow. Just a drop but it was enough to know what had happened. She drank his blood. She actually drank her blood. Damn her. 

Austin put his hand on Elizabeth’s shoulder. “Wake up. Now.”

She opened her eyes and smiled. “Do you feel better?”

“You bit me. You drank my blood.”

“Yes, I did drink your blood. I did not ask for permission. I just did it. Austin I am a Vampire, and sometimes I do things like that. There is no excuse but I had to.”

“What about Vampire guys? Do you drink their blood?”

“No. I don’t make it a habit. And I’m not seeing any Vampire guys. Just you.”

“So just…”

“You don’t get it do you.”

“No, I don’t”

“You need to get your blood tested. I think it is called a PSA test. It is for prostate cancer. Oh yeah, and please, when you get a chance thank me for taking your nasty cold from you. I felt like shit, death warmed over shit, for about two hours while you slept. I don’t know why you didn’t get a flu shot. I’m not doing this for the flu.”

“PSA test. You can tell if someone has cancer?”

“Sure, sometimes.”

“Do I have cancer?”

“It isn’t like your levels are extra high, but you’re almost forty and there might be something there. You can’t put it off Austin. If you have it the early treatment is uncomfortable but waiting for it to grow and metastasize is horrible. It will be a slow and extremely painful death, and horrible for everyone you love to see you go through it. A few radioactive pellets put in the right place and you’re good to go. And Mr. Happy will stay happy. Done deal.”

“How?”

“What?”

“How did you take on my flu? How do you know about my PSA levels?”

“I don’t know. It’s just something I do.”

“If you can heal like that then why aren’t you working in a hospital. Why isn’t every Vampire working in a hospital or medical research?”

“We don’t all heal like that, or at least not all the time. It takes a lot out of us.”

“Can all of you do that?”

“I guess, in varying degrees. I don’t know. Some of us, are better at it, especially if it is someone we care about, or love.”

“But…”

“Stop. You could tell I was a Vampire. You can see ghosts. Not every can do that, or wants to. I can heal and see potential threats. Not everyone can or wants to do that.”

“Elizabeth, do you realize…”

“Yes, I do. Enough.” She put a finger to his lips. “Enough.”

Later that day, after she’d left, Austin could only feel how wrong it was, and how right. No matter what he was grateful to have a clear nose, and a clear head. Well, maybe a clear head. And more than that, maybe a clear heart as well.

~ end

For the entire Austin and Elizabeth Series (The Hunter) CLICK here. Start from the beginning. This is the 20th story in the series.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman