Vlad’s Vampire Diary: Cat Walk

Dear Diary,

With the advent of the pandemic I have had to be creative about my food sources. I must admit that I had become lazy due to the fact that I did not need to be overly resourceful.

Only months ago I could go out in the night and find people everywhere. Now the streets are empty. No long am I allowed to sit at a bar shoulder to shoulder with potential blood donors.

As with everyone else in my neighborhood I have taken to the ritual of the morning walk before the summer heat puts us all into comas. My cats follow me when it is cool, for when it is cool their paws do not burn on what is called Ass Fault. That is something that is somewhat confusing, the dark roads in a climate that turns so hot in the summer months. I would like it if the roads were perhaps a pale blue or maybe a dove gray with just a hint of silver sparkles. I do not know why it was the fault of the ass or whatever fool was building the road or why it is called such a slightly vulgar name.

Back when I was the King of Vampires, before I was locked in a crypt for three hundred years, only to be liberated a few years ago, most roads were dirt, or made of natural stones. Animals need not worry about the pads of their feet being seared off when they needed to travel. But I digress. I am not an expert in road construction and I fear I never shall be. According to my Vampire lover Gillian, the people who are supposed to build and maintain the public roads are also not experts in road construction but that is a story for another time. Ass Fault.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

Without much for dinner last night I again went walking in the small hours of the morning. My two cats followed along as the air was still cool as yet not seared by the morning sun. My stomach was growling and my head growing light. I had to find food without being too obvious.

Two women stood talking, one on the sidewalk, the other on the porch of her house. I smiled and waved politely from the other side of the street. I could hear them talking, for I am a Vampire and I can hear quiet conversations from a long distance.

“He has been walking with his cats almost every single day. They’re so cute.”

“Oh my he is hot.”

“Blazing hot.”

I thought that was odd since it was still quite cool outside. I did not feel hot. I did not feel cute either. Cats are cute. Babies are cute. From what I understand, otters are cute. I am a grown man. I do not understand this word “cute”.

As I walked along I came across a younger man attempting to remove large pieces of lumber from the back end of his truck.

“Do you need help?” I called to him from across the street.

“Oh wow, that would be great,” he said. “I don’t have a mask on, but I can get one out of the house.”

“You are fine,” I said. “We will not stand close together.”

I could see that he noticed the muscles on my arms. Yes, I would be of help and not a problem.  The two cats sat under a tree in his front yard and started to groom themselves.

A task that would have taken the man hours alone only took a few minutes with my help. Vampires are always good for such work as we are both strong and fast. When we were finished a woman came out into the yard. She had a cast on her arm which I assumed was broken. Now I know why the man had no help.

“Thank you so much for helping,” she said. “Would you like to join us for breakfast?”

And so I did.

They were quite delicious.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

My Vampire love Gillian and I, in a successful plan to stay out of the heat did was is called binge watching Netflix. We watched many shows in which people attempt to find killers in an entertaining and emotional filled manner filled with conflicts and unimaginable twists. These towns in which these stories take place are incredibly dangerous places. We also saw a show in which people try not to fall into lava.

These are things I could not have imagined in a million years, much less my 676 years.

The cats were sleeping, curled up together in a chair. I leaned towards Gillian and kissed her neck.

“Let us stop binge watching murderers and go upstairs. I wish to binge on you my love.”

Gillian laughed with the voice of an angel, then took me upstairs where she was definitely not an angel.

Sometime staying at home and indoors is not a bad thing. Not at all.

~ Vlad

 

 

Kissed by a Vampire

Kissed by a Vampire

This has been the 6oth installment of Vlad’s Vampire Diary. To read all of the posts and to start from the beginning of Vlad’s story CLICK HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

Juliette’s Book Club: Cool Cats for Hot Summer Reading

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Oscar the Tuxedo Cat and Gloria the Calico Cat. It is too hot to go out and play today so they’re going to stay in and read.

 

I’ve always been slightly suspicious about people who say they don’t like cats. Three of my closest friends are allergic to cats but they still don’t hate them. My weirder than weird cat Angus used to visit a neighbor who was allergic to cats. When we weren’t home he’d scratch at her front door then go sleep on a corner of her couch for a few hours. Angus hated everyone except my husband and his friend across the street. Cats rock. I have two. They’re assholes and they’re completely devoted to me. I love them. I think I love almost every cat in the world. Today for your reading pleasure I’m suggesting THREE options for those who love cats, or just love a GREAT stories from master story tellers.

As a bonus I’ve included a short cat story at the end of this post.

Spence and Nameless

by

Dave Henderson

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I recently had the pleasure of meeting author Dave Henderson (online but hey, we’re still social distancing).

His stories about Spence are such a delight and so original. If you want to smile and like something a little different, a little odd, and exceptionally entertaining and well written check out his work.

The official description: Nameless is just a fella who values his solitude. His only companion is a big ol’ orange and white tabby cat named Spence. They are just livin’ the life, out in their shack outside town, ‘Close enough so it ain’t so bad to get supplies, and far enough out soz no one bothers much, and the sky is open at night.’ Until one day, when Spence disappears … and things get really fecked up.

Whatever you do, never get between a man and his cat.

cat eyes

 

One of my favorite books of 2019. It is still one of my favorite new books. I can’t wait for the next one. It is a wild, crazy, and unexpected ride, AND there is a CAT.

Red Darkling

by L.A. Guttler

“Red Darkling”, is a runaway Science Fiction, Fantasy, Smart Thriller, Comedy, HIT. If you haven’t read it already you need to NOW.

I loved this book and can’t wait for the next one to come out.

RedDarkling

I’m a BIG FAN of Red and her cat and of course her Granny. For several years now I’ve been following Red’s adventures through L.A. Guettler’s short stories about Red. OMG you’ll fall in love with her.

Here is the official description:

Red Darkling’s ship is a weevil-infested piece of junk. Her smuggling business barely brings in enough credits to buy cheap beer. Alien creeps think a blaster can get them favors when their charm fails. Her only company is a glitchy cat and the occasional hook-up. Her life is dirty, dangerous, and lonely: just how she likes it.It all takes a turn for the worse when things start going well. A little too well. Partying with movie stars, weekends in paradise, troublesome people turning up dead-it’s maddening. Who is this anonymous benefactor, and why does he think she needs protecting?

Also check out the great cover by artist Jason Kemp. Nice.

HnswGO6d

cat eyes

Gloria give this book 5 out of 5 stars

Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe

WPaD Science Fiction Anthology

Looking for some Science Fiction AND cats? This is the book for you. I also have to add that this is another great cover from Jason Kemp.

I recommend all of the stories but especially these cat stories:

Rocket Cats are Go by David Hunter

and

Bonk by Lea Anne Guettler

cat eyes

 

Now do you need a quick cat story fix? Well, here you go.

The Offer (a fairy tale with a wizard, a kitten and a mysterious stranger)

A Short Story by Juliette Kings

Miles was the official Royal Wizard to the Kingdom of the Moonbeam Mountains. What the fuck kind of name was that for a Kingdom?

“I will NEVER be as good as my dad.” he thought brooding in the dark under the night sky on the roof with a bottle of 80 proof Dragon Blood.

Sitting alone in his castle by the sea he thought of her, the princess who’d more or less left him for another man. Hell, he never had her. She’d always been in love with someone else. They’d been together for ten years. In ten years she’d told him a thousand times that she loved him but at the same time she was running a fantasy in her head about another guy.

For the past 6 years they’d lived with each other almost full-time. Their father’s were best friends. Hers was the King of the Northwestern Kingdom, his father was the Royal Wizard there and their mother’s were girlfriends. Everything was perfect, just like it was supposed to be. Every single year he’d proposed to her. Every single year she’d told him that she wanted to wait. Wait for what? Now he knew. She was waiting for another guy.

He called to have his horse ready and took off to the local pub. At least there he could keep his mind off of things.

Half way to the pub he stopped to pull his gloves out of his saddle bag. He heard a noise on the side of the road. A teeny tiny gray and white kitten ran towards him. It couldn’t have been more than six weeks old.

“Oh sweetie,” he whispered to the kitten, “I can’t leave you out here alone.” He tucked the tiny cat under his coat and continued on.

As he entered the village gate he could hear the band playing at the pub and already see friends lingering around the front door. “Deep breath Miles,” he thought to himself knowing everyone would ask about his princess. They knew he’d left her. They didn’t know why or for how long. He didn’t want to talk about it. Maybe he’d just put a spell on the place to make them all shut up about it, but ethics and his own code of decency stopped him from it. There is no crime in being curious.

After dropping his horse off in safe hands he greeted the people outside then went in. He could feel the small body purring inside of his coat. There was something about a cat that could make one forget everything. Cats were so pure and so decadent and so useless and so calming and so everything that made the universe worth living in. Cats represented all that was. Not good or bad just everything.

He caught his reflection in a window. Blonde hair, board shoulders, blue eyes, dimples on his boy-next-door cheeks and a scar across his neck that would tingle every time she kissed him, no matter what violent memories it brought him.

Everyone greeted him. Big points were scored with the ladies when he cradled the purring kitten in the crook of his arm. Damn that kitty was cute. She looked up at him and mewed a purr dripped sound that was absolutely toxic cute. He could never get enough of that feeling of pure joy and love.

After ordering a brew Miles did a few tricks for the patrons. They always asked and he was glad to give them some shows of blue sparks, wispy smoke dragons and fairies flying over their heads and levitating beer steins. It was all good fun. Fun was always good especially with the way he was feeling.

The fact that he’d been alone for a few months hadn’t gone unnoticed. He could hear the gossip behind his back. He could feel the single women watching him and wanting him. There was no reason for him to be alone at night but he wasn’t ready yet for company in his cold bed.

He heard a voice at his shoulder. “Missing your homeland Wizard?”

Miles turned around to see a tall exceptionally thin man standing at his shoulder. He wore a good suit and a sarcastic smile on his face.

The man continued to speak. “Do you miss a warm princess next to you in your cold bed? Do you wish your magic was more powerful? Do you wish you’d get the same respect and power as your father has? I can give you all of that.”

“It isn’t wise to attempt to provoke a wizard, even a piss poor attempt like yours. I don’t know you sir, but I’m here to enjoy an evening with friends. Now if you’ll excuse me and my cat we’ve got others to talk to,” Miles said to the tall thin man.

“Give me that kitten and I’ll grant you three wishes,” the stranger said in a voice so smooth it made Miles cringe.

“I don’t want your wishes and I’m sure as Hell not giving you my cat.”

At a large table he sat with friends, joking and listening to their stories, but his senses were wide open to any evil that lurked in the building. The tall thin stranger occupied himself with another group, but Miles could feel his presence.

The kitten purred and played with everyone at the table. There was nothing special or magic about her except that she was a cat. “Just a cat,” thought Miles, “nothing more.”

Hours later, after he’d had a successful evening with friends who’d done more than a good job of cheering him up and getting him out of his gloomy mood, Miles arrived home. His staff would be in bed so he put the horse to bed for the night, gathered the kitten back under his coat and headed for the front door. The moonlight made the dark pathway easy. He took a deep breath of the salt air and listened to the waves crashing on the beach below.

“Welcome to my castle by the sea dear kitten,” he told his small purring friend. “You look like a Lizzie to me. How about it? Do you like that name my dear?” The kitten meowed and purred.

Looking up he saw a figure on the cliff. It was the annoying thin stranger from the pub.

“Wizard, give me the cat and I will give you everything you desire. I can make your princess love you. I can make you famous. I can bring you riches.”

“Get off my property or I’ll…” he thought a moment for the bad things he could do then spoke. “What’s so special about the cat?”

“Your princess for the cat Miles. Say the word and you’ll have what your heart desires.”

“I don’t know who you are but I don’t want a woman who loves me because of a spell. I want her to love me for the right reason. I want her to fall for me in a nice long romantic way of her own accord. Love spells are bull shit. Every wizard with any talent knows that. And any man who knows what his heart desires and knows what true love feels like knows that.”

“Give me the cat.”

“Is she yours? Don’t lie to me man. I’ll know if you’re telling me a lie.”

The stranger halted a bit. “Well, no.”

“Then what is it? I don’t want any wishes and I don’t trust you with a helpless kitten. What do you really want? Is this some sort of test? Or are you just a creepy stalker? What is it? Tell me.”

“Do you love your princess?” The man asked him as if he was accusing Miles of cheating.

“Sure I do but, it’s none of your business.” None of anyone’s business that she was in love with someone else. “Get the Hell off of my property.” Miles blasted the ground in front of the man with a bolt of orange lightning. The man jumped back. “Go or the next one will hit you.”

The man was gone. Miles was alone in the kitchen with the kitten. “What was that about? Do you know?”

The kitten just purred.

Three wishes. He laughed out loud a bitter laugh. What would he need with three wishes. He’d worked hard for everything he had. He was proud of what he’d accomplished. Being a wizard, much less one in a foreign country, wasn’t always easy. People depended on him.

He thought of calling her, his princess, but he decided to let it go, at least for tonight. She had left him letters and messages but he couldn’t get past the pain of betrayal.

He wondered who the skinny guy was and why he wanted the cat. Three wishes. It wasn’t worth it. He’d never trade his soul or the tiny stray he’d found on the side of the road. After all, wasn’t it the same thing? He had shown compassion to a small beast. He’d shown his soul.

The kitten didn’t start to talk. He kissed the top of her tiny head but she didn’t turn into a princess.

Taking out a piece of paper and a pen he started to write.

Tonight a strange skinny man offered me three wishes in exchange for a small kitten I found on the side of the road. The man said he could make you love me. I wasn’t tempted by the offer. If you love me I want it to be honest and true for me. No magic. No games. No more lies. 

He wadded up the letter and made it vanish with a flash of blue smoke.  It was no use.  Heading up the stairs with the kitten in his arms he stopped at the sound of someone knocking on the door. “Damn you, I do not want your wishes.”

Jerking open the door Miles yelled, “I’m not giving you my kitten.”

But standing at the door wasn’t the tall skinny man, it was his princess. He brought her in and told her the story of the strange skinny man and the kitten. She listened in wonder and then they both went upstairs.

And did they live happily ever after? Maybe. Only time, or maybe the cat will tell.

~ end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Everything Will Be Alright

My kids are adults and missing out. The elder one won’t have a graduation for grad school and is having angst over just being an adult. The youngest is hunkering down and thriving. I was going to write about it all today but my brain is in other places and finding it difficult. Writing about adult children isn’t as easy as writing about high school and middle school kids.

I’m going to take the dog for a long walk and hope we don’t get rained on. If we do get rained on that is ok too, I guess. Also my computer is on the blitz. The mouse isn’t working – or I guess I should say mice. Both the touch pad and the regular logitech mouse just aren’t able to communicate with my MacBook and the computer repair guys are closed. Ugh. But everything will be alright.

This post was first published in 2014, but the message still rings true.

~ Juliette

 

Everything Will Be Alright

My life is absolutely jam-packed full. But there were times when I was alone in almost every sense of the word. There were times that might have been hailed as opportunities and all I could see was a bottomless pit. There were times when I took opportunities and so the saying goes, ran with it. I ran as far as I could go. Everything eventually changes. Nothing stays the same except maybe our love and I hope our humor.

As a rule I’m reserved around my new clients, that is new Vampires. Yes, just turned a few months ago. She was doing well. Rather pragmatic and accepting about it. As with most of them it wasn’t what they expected. Then again, most of life isn’t what we expect until we’ve been around for a while and gathered that old moss of experience and wisdom.

Willow had family here and there. Her parents had divorced and started new families when she was about ten. She never saw them much or kept track of them. She had lived with an uncle who’d since passed away. None the less Willow made it through high school and college then on to a career. Then life and love imploded around her. It happens to all of us. She thought of jumping off a bridge but didn’t do it. She was thinking of a lot of things one night when she was seduced by a man who turned out not to be like her. And well, her life changed a lot more dramatically than she could have ever imagined, for Willow had been turned into a Vampire.

It was more complicated than that, but that isn’t the point of this story. The point is that I am in charge of helping Willow finally make the adjustment of living on her own, in a new world. A new life if you want to call it that.

I’d introduce her to the community of the night and teach her to know who is safe and who is not. I’d continue to give her instructions and watch over her until she was ready to be completely on her own.

She was surprised that we (Vampires) were for the most part not the creatures of dark brooding novels and movies. OK we can be dark and brooding and we’re pretty good at it, but the point is that we, like everyone else, just want to be happy. We want to fit in. We need to care and know we’re cared for. That is the Modern Vampire way, and the way for most people, no matter what exactly they might be.

That morning we stopped by a small cottage like house I’d found for her to live in.

As we entered the front door she a look about in a cautious sort of way, kind of like a cat after all the furniture has been moved around.

“Nobody will miss me. Not really. I mean after I died.” She looked out the window into the mid-morning fog.

I put my hand on her shoulder. “This is the beginning Willow. You’re not dead.”

“I…” she started to say, but I cut in.

“This isn’t suicide. It is just being here in a different way. You’ll make it positive. You’ll find success. You’ll find love.”

WIllow looked around some more inside then out back at the small garden. She smiled, careful not to show any fangs.”

We then took my truck in search of furniture and other household items she needed to get started with her new life.

She asked if she could get a cat. Of course. On the way home we stopped by the shelter, the city pound, where she picked out a three-year old tabby with white paws named Jeeves. She said she’d help someone else make a new start too – that they’d do it together – Willow and Jeeves.

I turned on some music in the car and intentionally played “The Middle” by the band Jimmy Eat World. It is one of my son’s favorite songs. It seemed like the right song to play for Willow.

In most cases, no matter how melancholy things seem, it will get better. The stars will continue to shine, cats will purr and new friends will make bonds that last for years.

I try to teach that to my own children who will all too soon be leaving home to go off to college, alone, that there will be times when they’ll feel lost. But they have a good navigation system and they’ll always find their way. Maybe not where they thought they would be going but with any luck they’ll always end up where they are supposed to be.

As I watched Willow unload Jeeves the cat and hold him in her arms, I had a feeling that she was exactly where she was supposed to be too.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

The Middle

Jimmy Eats World – Songwriters: ADKINS, JAMES CHRISTOPHER/BURCH, RICHARD E/LIND, ZACHARY MICHEL/LINTON, THOMAS DARRELL

Hey, don’t write yourself off yet
It’s only in your head you feel left out or
Looked down on.
Just TRY your best, TRY everything you can.
And don’t you worry what they tell themselves when you’re away.

Chorus
It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine, everything,
Everything will be alright, alright.

Hey, you know they’re all the same.
You know you’re doing better on your own, so don’t buy in.
Live right now.
You just be yourself.
It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough for someone else.

Chorus
It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine, everything,
Everything will be alright, alright.
It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine, everything,
Everything will be alright, alright.

Hey, don’t write yourself off yet.
It’s only in your head you feel left out or
Looked down on.
Just do your best (just do your best), do everything you can (do everything you can).
And don’t you worry what their bitter hearts (bitter hearts) are gonna say.

Chorus
It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine, everything,
Everything will be alright, alright.
It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine, everything,
Everything will be alright.

I spilled half a littler box of used cat litter down my shirt

Venting Musings At Home With the Vampires Amid the Lockdown

cat-tongue-catster

Today I spilled half a littler box of used cat litter down my shirt.

I was attempting to dump the box of used litter into a bag and well… I guess we can just say shit happens.

One a popular social media platform someone told me “I don’t read vampire books but I like Twilight.” I translate that to the entire text of Green Eggs and Ham. If you don’t understand this comment please don’t even ask. If you’ve never read Green Eggs and Ham please do yourself a favor and read it sometime in the next 48 hours. Please do not tell me you or a fan of Twilight or anything along those lines. I am not a fan.

Read this.

image

Yes, it it one of those days.

It seems like every other week another writer, artist, musician, complains that friends and family don’t like or understand their work. Worse than that is that friends and family ignore their work.

I have friends who DO like my art and my writing. If you don’t do not worry about it. Plenty of people do or will like your creative work. Even if you’re the only one, along with your tens of thousands of fans that is all that matters. Keep telling yourself that.

I write about parenting. Don’t tell me you don’t like teenagers.

I also write about Vampires and other such things. I usually do that metaphorically /ˈˌmedəˈfôrək(ə)lē/.

Don’t tell me you are not a fan if you haven’t read any of my work, or read works from my friends or other authors I like.

Do you see where this is going? If you are an adult and someone politely offers you something you do not think you will like there are two correct answers.

  1. Have a small taste. You might like it.
  2. Say nothing.

During our time at home during this historic period we’ve been remodeling the inside of our home. That means we’ve been painting and moving around furniture before the new floors go in. According to cats that gives them permission to scratch up any nice furniture we might still own, and it also gives them permission to pee on everything that might have fallen on the floor. Cats do not live by the same rules as the rest of us. They are not part of polite society. However humans, or those who look human are expected to be part of polite society.

At this time polite society means four things.

Those things are:

  1. Wear a mask when going out in public and social distance.
  2. Be nice.
  3. Give moral support to medical staff, teachers, first responders, and people working in grocery stories, working in hardware stores, and working in places like Costco and Walmart, food workers, delivery drivers, and those who are out among the public.
  4. Do not complain and whine about staying in or online schooling.
  5. You are not unique or special. Even Vampires are not unique or special at this time. If they’re not special you aren’t special. Seriously, ever hear a Vampire whine? Be a like a Vampire. Don’t whine about staying inside, wearing a mask, missing a pedicure or a haircut, or shit that in the long term really doesn’t matter. You can miss things but not mourn them. Only mourn those who have lost their lives.

You may complain about people who are mean, or misleading, or prone to embracing ignorance.

Yes, I dumped a half a litter box full of used litter down my shirt today and I’m tired.

If you say you don’t like Vampires then just think of how hard it is for them now. We don’t like breaking into houses so we don’t do it. Nobody is out in public. Bottled blood just isn’t always fun be we deal with it because that is what we do. We stay home and deal with it.

Yes, it is hard. The money isn’t coming in. The government hotlines leave you on hold listening to endless messages for an hour then tell you to go away and hang up. Don’t give up. Never give up.

The best thing to do is stop listening to the news for even a day or two. Binge watch Netflix. Go for a walk. Read a book. Keep in touch with friends and family. Start drawing pictures even if you aren’t artistic. Look at cat memes. Read blogs you’ve never read before. Ask me for recommendations if you need help.

Adopt a stray. I hear shelters are open for adoptions. Adopt a stray. Give it a forever home. Bring unconditional love into your life. I’d do it but I have enough unconditional love and those who give it to me don’t like each other and are destroying my furniture right now.

Yes, I’m complaining about complaining. Heaven help me. At least I don’t have issues with Demons like my brother Max.

I’m done.

Have a wonderful POSITIVE day. xoxoxo

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

cats

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noz ~ a story by Mike Cooley

Noz

By Mike Cooley

The thump woke me up. Noz looked at me, blood dripping from his fangs. The body was on the floor in the kitchen; she looked young. The cigarette between my stained fingers was still lit and my hair was matted against the side of my face. I was lying on the ratty couch and an empty bottle of something cheap was on the carpet between me and the dark glass table. The cabin smelled ashes, spilled red wine, and fate.

“Noz. What have I told you about bringing home strangers?” I nodded toward the young lady, who was lying on her back, motionless and pale. Her hair was sandy blonde, and she was wearing a jade necklace, a turquoise blouse, and black shorts. The smell of her perfume wafted toward me, floral and ephemeral.

Nozfuratu’s satisfied grin morphed into a look of apology. He licked his left paw and smoothed his ebony hair back, trying to act nonchalant. “Mrow?” Other than the inverted white cross on his forehead, he was pitch black. It wasn’t immediately obvious how a feline of his relatively small size was able to take down a human and drag her all the way home, but I had long since given up trying to figure that part out.

I sat up with a groan, the inside of my skull pounding like a kodo drum, grabbed the kit off the table, and then beaconed Noz with a curled finger. “Come here. You know the drill.”

He sheepishly approached, after looking over his shoulder to make sure his prize was still there. Then he stopped in front of me and bared his teeth, holding still. The aura around him flickered with power.

I moved the test strip close and took a crimson drop off his incisor, then I inserted it into the tester and waited. “AB Negative? What have I told you about that, Noz?”

His ears flattened and he looked at me with apprehension. Then he gave me his best sad eyes.

“Can’t you smell the difference? I know we discussed this. If you have to hunt, you need to stick to O Positive or A Positive. I’m running out of everything else.” I wagged a finger at him. “You know how dangerous it is for me to leave.” I gestured at the walls of my cabin, nestled deep in the woods west of Duluth. There were piles of books and magazines all over and it looked like a small windstorm had just blown through. Shelves fastened to the walls contained a strange assortment of artifacts including silver rocket ships, moon rocks, and particle detectors.

Noz nodded with understanding, but his eyes were defiant and wise. His long tail twitched back and forth hypnotically.

The girl on the floor was still motionless. I stood and stretched, then rubbed the sand out of my eyes. Noz followed me into the kitchen, around the girl, and to the fridge. I opened the door, exposing row after row of blood bags, hanging from metal rods. I pushed them to the left, looking for the rare AB. There was one bag of it, near the back, so I grabbed it and then shut the door. There were dusty photos of crop circles taped to the front of the refrigerator and a few pictures of people that used to admit they knew me.

Noz trotted over to a ceramic bowl on the floor and lapped up some water.

I hooked the bag onto a metal stand near the broken television, then picked up the girl and laid her down gently on the couch. Then I wheeled the stand closer, and propped the girl’s head up on a pillow that was closer to clean than the rest of my place. Noz watched with great interest as I sterilized the needle with my lighter, let it cool, and then eased it into her arm.

Noz crept up to the side of the couch and peered up at her, his long black hair making him look bigger than he actually was. He sniffed her skin and then licked her pale face.

“Give her some space, Noz. You almost killed her. Why does a little guy like you need so much blood, anyway? You got a hollow leg?” I dodged the stack of Ancient Aliens magazines and pulled another bottle of cabernet out of a cardboard box on the floor. The cabin was a mess and smelled of damp cigarette butts, booze, and loneliness. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a real visitor.  Not many people knew where I was—and that’s how I liked it.

I sat down in my padded leather chair near a stained glass floor lamp, on the other side of the glass table from the girl. She looked like she was in her twenties, slight of build and a bit scuffed up from being dragged by Noz. I pulled the cork and poured a glass of dark red, then lit a Marlboro and took a drag. The ashtray on the night stand next to my chair was full of  filters and ash. There were empty beer cans on every horizontal surface.

Noz sniffed the girl’s hair one more time, then walked over, jumped into my lap, and curled up in a ball. His eyes closed and he began to purr. He smelled of power, like he did every time he brought someone back, and he felt heavier than he looked, like he was made of warm granite or lead.

I lifted the red, inhaled the aroma, and swirled it. Then I tilted it up, finishing my glass and pouring another. I looked around the inside of the cabin for signs that anyone had been there while I was passed out, but the haphazard clutter seemed the same as the night before. I didn’t remember when the voices had dimmed and let me fall asleep, but it had to have been hours ago.

The girl’s eyes fluttered open. They were blue and filled with confusion, which changed to awareness, and then panic as she scanned the room and stopped on me. “Where? Where am I? Who are you?”

“Noz dragged you home.” I gestured toward his sleeping form in my lap. “But he took too much blood, so I gave you back a pint.” I pointed at the metal stand and the hanging crimson bag, which was half empty.

She looked around the dirty, cluttered living room until her eyes fixed on the front door. Then she looked back at me. Her eyes shone with defiance, rather than fear. She tried to sit up and then slumped back down, closing her eyes for a moment.

“You’re not afraid.” I took the last drag from my cigarette, ashing it out in the octagonal glass ashtray to my left, then I exhaled slowly toward the front door. The window to the right of the door revealed only darkness beyond.

“Should I be?” She sat up on the couch again and groaned, reaching toward the bite mark on her throat. “Are you trying to tell me that little thing brought me here?” She pointed at Noz.

I nodded. “He’s a vampire.”

“Your cat is a vampire?”

“Would you like some wine? You lost a lot of blood.” I slid Noz off my lap onto the chair and stood slowly, then reached down into the crate for the last bottle. The girl didn’t flinch or try to scramble off the couch. “Normally they try to run when they wake up.”

“I’m not a runner.” She looked at the blood bag hanging from the metal stand, and then down at the tape on her arm.

“My cat bit you, sucked your blood, and then dragged you home; I’m a black man, somewhat disheveled, and you don’t know where you are.” I pulled the cork, poured my glass full and then poured half a glass and set it down on the table within reach of the girl.

Noz woke up and jumped down onto the dirty, wooden floor. Then he walked over to the couch and looked up at the girl as if apologizing.

“Somewhat?” She reached down and petted him. “I’m Nalia. Noz is cute. What if I leave and tell the police what happened?”

“You won’t remember me when you leave. No one does.” I rubbed my unshaven chin and took a gulp of wine. I looked down at my stained t-shirt and grungy pants. I couldn’t remember the last time I had showered.

Nalia reached for her glass, then lifted it to her lips and took a small, experimental sip.

“It’s safe. Same bottle.” I raised my glass. “Sorry about the bite and the scratches… Noz gets hungry.”

“This happens a lot? Where are the other girls?” Nalia patted the couch next to her and Noz jumped up.

“They left after I gave them some blood back. Halfway through the woods they forgot all about us.”

“So you’re magic?”

“Noz is. I’m just a man with a troubled mind.”

“Troubled, dangerous?”

“Not to you.”

“Can he turn into a bat?” Nalia scratched Noz behind the ears.

“No. But he doesn’t show up in mirrors, and rarely goes out before dark. Garlic doesn’t bother him and silver bullets can’t kill him.”

“You look a little rough. You all right?” Nalia leaned forward and looked me up and down.

“It’s been a rough couple of lifetimes. It gets a bit noisy up here.” I tapped my temple. “Why didn’t you run when you woke up?”

“My Mom says I’m different. That I embrace risk.” She took a bigger sip of cabernet and looked at the bookshelf full of Alchemy tomes against the far wall.

“And that’s what you think?” I let the voices inside wash over me like an ocean wave, and then they receded to a dull murmur. They were trying to tell me something about Nalia, but I couldn’t make it out. It was all static.

“No. Well, yes—I am different. But it’s not about risk. What about you?”

“I believe I was born under a pyramid. And I’m a patchwork of ghosts.”

“How’s that possible?”

“Sometimes when people die, and I’m close enough, their ghost passes through me—and sticks. Then I have another voice up here.” I pointed at my forehead. “I have attracted the attention of the wrong beings.”

Noz galloped across the room and jumped to the top of the bookcase, peering down at us like a gargoyle; then he closed his amber eyes.

“Is this a kidnapping?” Nalia watched Noz on his perch. She brushed her pale hair back behind her ears and continued absorbing the details around her as if cataloguing them so she could describe everything to the authorities. She sniffed the air experimentally and then her nose wrinkled.

“More of a cat napping.” I pointed to Noz, who remained still. “You are free to leave at any time. But the GeoSat rays are strong right now, so you might wanna wait…”

“Rays?” Nalia leaned forward and raised an eyebrow. Her blouse was covered with butterflies and the jade stone was fastened to her necklace with silver wire. Her fingernails were painted dark purple, matching her lips. She was wearing tennis shoes.

Noz vaulted from the top of the bookcase, stretched out to catch the air, and glided down to Nalia, landing on her shoulder.

“He’s yours now.” I took a drag of filtered death and then turned my head and exhaled away from Nalia toward the back room. The cabin had one main room with a kitchen, a bathroom, and one bedroom.

“You can’t just give me your cat.”

“Noz is allowed to have pets. But only one at a time.” I smiled. “Wanna test your legs and get me a beer?”

Nalia pulled the needle out of her arm with a grimace and then reapplied the tape to her arm where it had been pierced. The bag on the stand was nearly empty. Then she stood up, her stance belying the fact that she was ready to bolt. She wavered a bit, like a palm tree in an ocean breeze, and then stabilized. “Why did you say the rays are strong?” She turned toward the fridge.

Noz remained on her shoulder, enjoying the ride. He nuzzled against her left ear and began to purr.

“You’re an anomaly. They’ve noticed.” I pointed up toward the sky.

Nalia opened the fridge and gasped at the rows of hanging bags. “That’s a lotta blood.”

“Nozfuratu is a good hunter. Beer’s in the bottom drawer.”

Nalia grabbed two Castle Danger’s and tossed one my way. “Catch!”

I caught it and popped open the can. “Thanks.”

She nodded, walked back over to the couch, and sat down, cracking her beer open and taking a gulp. “What do you mean I’m an anomaly? What did I do?”

“It’s not what you did… it’s what you are. You’re an energy channeler.”

“A what?”

“You might be more familiar with the term, witch.”

“My parents are normal. I was born through the woods and down the hill, on the shore of Lake Superior.” Nalia pointed.

“One or both of your parents is not. One thing abnormals are really good at… is hiding it. Outsiders are in constant danger on this world.”

“How can you tell what I am?”

“The glow around your left ring finger.”

Nalia held up her hand. “I don’t see anything.”

“I see a lot of things.” I drank half the ale and lit another cigarette. “Are you feeling better?”

“A little weak. Last thing I remember is the little bastard leaping for my throat.” Nalia grabbed Noz by the scruff of the neck and shook him gently. “I was out for a walk. Getting some air. Trying to leave my troubles behind.”

“I know a thing or three about trouble.”

“What are you doing hiding in the woods?”

“Iron Ore.” I drank the rest of the beer, crumpled the can, and tossed it across the room into a basket full of empties.

“Pardon?” Nalia took another sip then set her beer down on the table. “Those things will kill ya.”

I looked down at the Marlboro, then rubbed the stubble on my chin. “It’s not that easy. The iron helps disburse the rays—from up there—so I can sleep.” I pointed at the ceiling, which was dusty and festooned with cobwebs.

“Are you one of those Flat Earthers?” Nalia laughed.

“I’m a Multiple Earther. That which you think you know is nothing more than a thin veil over what actually exists.”

“I’m not a witch.” Nalia tilted her can up and emptied it, then set it down on the table.

Noz jumped onto her lap and curled up.

“But you have powers. ”

“Not useful ones, like dodging flying vampire cats.”

“I know this is a lot to ask, but would you consider helping me?”

“How often do you have strange girls in your house?”

“Ladies.”

“Don’t change the subject.” Nalia pointed at me and her aura grew larger. There was a blue glow around her hands that crept up her arms toward her shoulders.

“It’s not polite to point.”

“Considering the circumstances, I don’t believe that you are occupying the high ground here. Right, Noz?” Nalia looked down at the dark fluff.

Noz opened one eye, then nodded and smiled.

“Could you help me transfer my energy signature to Eagle Mountain? It will be dangerous.”

“Hold on. You want me to carry your energy away from here?”

“No. I will walk there, with you. And then we will perform the ceremony. It’s the only way to break the GeoSat link. Noz will come with us, for protection.”

Noz stretched and then looked from Nalia toward the front door.

“What if he gets hungry again?”

“He won’t be hungry again for a few days. But he might bite some things.”

Nalia picked up a magazine and looked at the cover. “Why do you have all these Alien Artifact ‘Zines?” She opened it up and scanned all the handwritten notes in the margins and then the circled phrases and images.

“Research.”

“So, you’re nuts because of these GeoSat beams?” Nalia closed the magazine and set it down on the table.

“I was always nuts. But once they found me here, they’ve redoubled their efforts and I’m pinned down like a bug on a needle under a magnifying glass. They know my frequency.”

Nalia looked at the front window and then at her watch. “It’s eleven. What if we take too long and the sun comes up while we are hiking in the woods with Noz?”

I stood up, walked down the hall to the bedroom door, opened it, and grabbed the carved wooden box from the night stand. Then I turned, walked back into the living room, and held it up. “I’ll bring his nest. We can put him in it before sunrise.” I set the box down on the glass table in front of her.

“You have a coffin for your cat?” Nalia smirked.

“Your cat. Although he doesn’t much care for the idea of a human owning him. As far as Noz is concerned, you are his.”

Nalia scratched Noz under the chin. “One bite and you think you own me?”

Noz bared his teeth and pretended he was going to bite Nalia again but instead lightly nibbled.

“So you will help me? It’s not too much of an imposition? You’re not afraid… of me?” I sat down in my chair and closed my eyes, feeling the rays outside searching for me while the ghosts inside tried to escape through my breath.

“It appears that you are only a danger to yourself. And I wasn’t going anywhere when Noz bit me and drained my blood. I was just walking in the trees, trying to absorb some positive thoughts from the old ones.”

I opened my grey eyes and leaned forward. “Oh, I’m dangerous. But not to women. Right, Noz?”

Noz perked up and looked from me to Nalia, then dipped his chin.

“Why me?” Nalia held up her left hand and examined her fingers. “I don’t see any glow.”

“You have become accustomed to your power. It lies beneath the surface like a smooth lake under ice. But I am lucky Noz found you. He is wise beyond his years.”

Nalia went to the fridge and grabbed two more beers, tossing me one. Then she cracked hers open. “I’m in. But no funny stuff.”

“Hiking up a mountain with an old man and a vampire cat while being scanned by GeoSats doesn’t count as funny stuff?” I opened my eyes wide and then grinned.

“How far is it?” Nalia drank half of her Castle Danger, then set the can down. “I better use your bathroom first.”

I pointed down the hallway to the left. “It’s about four hours to the top from here. If we don’t get attacked.”

Noz ran ahead of Nalia and popped into the bathroom. There was a thump and then the light clicked on.

Nalia laughed and followed him.

I sipped my beer and smoked another death stick while Nalia took care of business. Then I slipped the remainder of the Marlboro pack into my shirt pocket along with a lighter, grabbed a knife and slid it inside my boot sheath, and then packed Noz’s carved wooden nest into a backpack.

Nalia and Noz emerged from the bathroom and came back into the living room.

Noz looked excited. He knew we were going somewhere.

“Ready?” I stood up and slung the backpack over my shoulders.

Nalia nodded.

I opened the front door and headed outside.

Nalia and Noz followed. She closed the door behind her.

Thetrees towered above us and the faint glow of the moon shone through a layer of clouds. The forest smelled of pine. I followed the winding dirt trail and scanned the thick underbrush. Nalia and Noz were close behind me. I pulled a cigarette from my front shirt pocket and lit it, then took a puff.

“What’s your name anyway? And what are you looking for in the woods?” Nalia looked over at me.

Noz hung close to her legs, his ears perked and his eyes wide. He was watching the woods, too, and smelling the air.

“Isaac. I’m watching for manifestations. Noz can smell them.”

“Manifest what?”

“The GeoSat beams know where I am. And they can produce… creatures.”

“So we are in danger? I thought it would just be bears or cougars.” Nalia looked down at Noz who was peering up at the tree tops.

“The Manifests are deadly. But I have a knife.” I pointed at my boot. “And Noz.”

“And me.” Nalia smiled. “So these ‘Sats are aliens that want to kill you?”

“In a way. But not flying saucer aliens. They know I can expose them, so they want to keep me isolated. I know where they’re from, and that they’re trying to change the future.” I walked faster. There was a smell that I recognized wafting through the air. It was like burnt cinnamon mixed with rotten leaves.

Noz growled and then shot ahead of us.

“There’re here.” I crouched, then reached into my left boot and pulled out the hunting knife.

Nalia’s eyes grew wide. She stopped in the middle of the winding trail and took a defensive stance. “I don’t see anything.”

“Open your mind.”

Three blue beams erupted from the midnight sky, piercing the darkness. There was a crackle of energy and then the creatures were upon us. They were misshaped and hairy, like melted gorillas from a different world. Their hands had too many fingers and their eyes were scattered around on their faces, asymmetrically.

“Jesus.” Nalia extended her left hand and a green glow sprang up around her, shimmering like a translucent egg.

Noz flew through the air and hit the first manifestation in the head, fangs extended. His momentum knocked the creature down and they both rolled down the hill to our left.

“Feel your energy. It springs from within. Shield us and I will take these two on.” I lunged forward and stabbed the closest creature. The steel blade pierced its cold skin. It screamed with a voice that sounded like metal ripping, and raked me with obsidian talons, tearing my shirt and drawing blood. An acrid smell filled my nostrils.

Nalia went to one knee, and the green aura extended around her like a bubble.

The second creature dashed itself against the bubble in anger, but the shield held.

“I don’t know how to do this.” Naila’s face showed fear and she was trembling; sweat ran down her forehead.

“It’s not necessary to know. It’s not something you learn; it’s something you are. Feel the flow and stay in it. You are a conduit.” I spun to my right and the second creature barreled into me, pinning me to the ground. The knife dropped out of my hand, slick with the blue blood of the creature I had stabbed.

Noz popped out of the bushes, his muzzle and head covered with the blood of the creature he had wrestled down the hill. He pounced on the back of the one that had me pinned and started biting it.

The manifest on top of me screamed like a rusty hangar door and rolled off, scrabbling at its back with both arms, trying to dislodge Nozfuratu.

The third creature battered against Nalia’s shield over and over, trying to reach her. Each time it hit the barrier, it drove her back and the shield weakened. The green glow of her power crackled and sputtered. Nalia was on both knees, sweat drenching her body. “I can’t hold it. I can’t.”

“One more minute. You can do it.” I rolled to my left, grabbed the knife, and plunged it into the creature Noz was biting. It shimmered and then dissolved into dark azure smoke, which drifted away on the night’s breeze leaving nothing but the echo of its last scream.

Noz screeched and turned toward Nalia as her shield collapsed and the last manifestation knocked her to the ground.

Nalia screamed and raised her arms, trying to knock the creature off.

The creature wrapped both of its powerful hands around her neck and squeezed. It was making a gibbering noise and its many eyes were wide open and staring.

Nalia’s screams stopped and she went limp.

Noz bit the creature, draining blood while pulling it off of her.

I stabbed it in the head and it turned to smoke like the others.

“Nalia?” I examined her neck, which was bruised but not broken. She was breathing.

Noz rubbed against her anxiously, his face near hers. Then he licked her lips.

“Wha? Christ!” Nalia’s eyes fluttered open and then she coughed and sat up, clutching her throat. “That was close.”

“Now you see why I don’t leave my cabin.”

“Thanks for saving me, Noz.” Nalia rubbed under his chin.

Noz purred like a tiny chainsaw and then licked his paw trying to clean his face of the creature’s blood.

I wiped the viscous blue off my knife and then sheathed it in my boot. “You feel well enough to keep walking?”

Nalia nodded and stood up. She rubbed her neck and moved her head around in a circle carefully, checking for pain.

I started walking along the dirt trail again. It was getting steeper as we passed the base of the mountain.

“How far to the cave? Are we going to run into any more manifestations?”

“We are getting close.” I reached for another cigarette, but the pack was empty. “The creatures don’t usually manifest again, right after an attack.”

We walked for another twenty minutes before I held up a hand. I could see beams scanning the woods all around us, and the glow of eyes watching from the trees. “We’re here. It’s off to the right, behind that outcropping.” I pointed.

“I don’t know what to do. I’m not really a witch, you know.” Nalia reached down and grabbed Noz, then put him on her shoulder.

“I know you don’t think you are. You’ve been conditioned by humans. They’ve taught you to suppress it. They’ve made you forget what you really are.”

I led the way off the trail and into the mouth of the cave.

“Now what?” Nalia pulled a flashlight out of a pocket on the backpack and illuminated the hollow.

The cave was twenty feet high and deep enough we couldn’t see the end. The rock walls were covered with moss, and the dirt floor was littered with pebbles and small bones.

“You are going to extract my essence and coat the cave walls with it. That will trick the GeoSats into thinking I’m here. You will have to nearly kill me, or it won’t work.”

“But I don’t know how.”

“Noz will help.” I laid down on the cave floor and stretched out my arms. “Reach down to my chest and find the edge of my essence.”

Nalia knelt down beside me and placed her hands on my chest. “But what—what if you die?”

“There are worse ways to die than looking at beauty.”

Noz leapt down from Nalia’s shoulder, and took up a position to my right. He looked up at Nalia expectantly.

“Close your eyes and feel the essence within me. It will feel like warm gelatin. And it will pulse with fire. It will burn.”

“I think. I think I can feel it.” Nalia spread her hands and began to pull them upward.

Noz gave a worried meep, placing his face close to mine.

I felt the warm rush of my life force draining, as if my blood was evaporating, and I grew faint. “Take my essence, and paint the walls with it.”

Nalia crouched over me, fear in her eyes.

Everything began to spin in a dreamlike spiral. I could smell freshly turned earth and pine trees. The ghosts within me sprang free and hung in the air like paper lanterns.

She spread her fingers and a pulsing glow sprang from her hands. She reached into my chest and pulled on my heart. Then she pulled her hands back and my energy flowed upward and out of me.

My eyes closed.

Nalia flung her hands upward and outward, spraying bits of my essence over the inside of the cave like spatters of gold.

Noz nuzzled my cheek. “Mrrow.”

A sigh escaped my lips and I exhaled. I felt no need to inhale anymore. The weight of the world rose off of me like a shimmer of light. There was a vibration within my chest like the rumble of faraway thunder. I could smell coffee. Memories flickered by like moths.

Nalia’s eyes widened. “Oh, no you don’t!” She pounded my chest with her fists.

“I’m not leaving you.” My voice was no more than a whisper. “But I’m too weak to walk. Noz will have to drag me far away from here before my essence is detectable again.”

Noz bit down on my pant leg and dragged me from the cave as if I weighed nothing. Above the rocky opening in the side of the mountain the GeoSat beams danced, scanning the area. They played across the cave opening while dreams of the ancients flickered into life behind my eyelids. Ghosts danced and swirled through my consciousness like flickering fireflies.

“Isaac? Are you alive?” Nalia crouched over me. Her voice sounded far away.

My eyes opened. Noz was perched on my chest and I was lying on my back. Trees rose above me and it was nearing dawn. I could hear the chirping of birds as the forest began to wake. “I am. Where are we?”

“About halfway back. Noz dragged you.” Nalia’s blue eyes showed concern and her lips were a tight line.

“And the beams?”

“They didn’t follow. They were scanning the top of the mountain behind us.”

“We need to get Noz in his nest.” I sat up and the forest swirled around me. I fought the urge to black out and squeezed my temples.

Nalia pulled Noz’s coffin out of the backpack and set it on the ground, then opened it. The outside was carved walnut while the inside was red velvet. The hinges and clasps were golden. “Time for your nap, Noz.”

A warm, red glow sprang up from the eastern horizon, filtering through the brush like blood.

I grabbed Nozfuratu and held him to my chest, grasping him tight. Then I looked into his eyes. “You take care of her.”

Noz rested his head on my shoulder for a moment, then jumped off of me and into his nest, curling into a ball. He looked up at Nalia expectantly then lifted a paw in my direction.

I held up a hand, palm open and let a wash of feelings swirl through me like an undercurrent in a fierce river.

She closed the lid and latched it. “He’s in. Can you walk?”

I struggled to my feet. “As long as I can lean on you a little. We need to get back to my cabin before my strength comes back, or the GeoSats will detect me.”

“They were scanning the cave when we dragged you out of there.”

“I think you did it, Nalia. They will believe I’m still there.” I leaned against her and walked as fast as I could. Each step was harder than the next and I was barely able to lift my feet. My bones were weary, but I wasn’t going to waste the chance.

The sun was kissing the ground to the east, red turning to golden, rays cascading through the leaves when we got back to the cabin.

Nalia pulled open the front door and dragged me to the couch where I collapsed as everything went black.

Shewas sitting on the leather chair keeping an eye on me when I woke up, a beer in each hand. Her aura was bright and undulated around her like a ghostly shell.

“Feeling better?” Nalia leaned forward. “You look dazed.”

I sat up and looked around the room, spotting Noz’s wooden nest on the glass table in front of me. “I’m feeling free. I can’t hear the beams.” I looked up at the ceiling. “Best sleep I’ve had in years. How long was I out?”

Nalia smiled. “It’s dusk. You slept all day.” She held a beer up in the direction of the front window, where daylight was beginning to fade. “What now?”

“You are free to go. I owe you my life. Take Noz with you.” I leaned forward, unlatched the coffin, and opened the lid.

Noz opened one amber eye, then the other, then vaulted out of his coffin in one swift motion. He stretched and preened, his face lighting up when he saw Nalia.

Nalia walked to the fridge, grabbed a handful of blood bags, and jammed them into the backpack. Then she pulled the pack onto her shoulders and reached down to pet Noz’s head. “You sure you’ll be okay without us?”

I nodded. “They won’t know where I am for awhile. Perhaps long enough for me to escape them.”

“I believe in you.” Nalia walked over, placed a hand on my shoulder, then leaned down and kissed my cheek.

“Be careful, Nalia. They know who you are now.”

Nalia smiled. “I will, Isaac. I will.”

Noz ran across the room, leapt up to the door handle, and turned it with his weight. He locked eyes with me and raised his chin with pride.

Emotion welled up in Nalia’s eyes. She touched a finger to her lips and looked away before her face could betray her.

The front door swung open, and then they were gone.

* * *

From Mike Cooley:

mdc-author-shot-1

I am a science fiction and fantasy writer by night, and a software engineer by day. I have written many science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories. I grew up in Washington State, went to college in New Mexico, and ended up in Minnesota. My top influences are Phillip K. Dick and James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Sheldon). I could name another hundred writers that have influenced me and my work, but that would be a bit excessive.

~ Mike Cooley

Tangled Tales

From Juliette:

I love this story so much.

I can’t even express how honored I am to feature this story from my friend and  author Mike Cooley. Thank you Mike.

Mike’s blog Last Writes Fantastical Tales of Madness and Mayhem can be found HERE (click here.) There you’ll find his blog, his books, contact information, and some of the best new science fiction, fantasy, and horror available today.

His work is also featured in several WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants) Anthologies.

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Over the next few months I’ll be featuring other talented guest authors.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vlad’s Vampire Diary: Murphy and Snafu walk into a bar

Dear Diary,

It has not been a good day.

My cat was crying a pitiful cry the way cats do. She sounded like a wailing infant who had been damned to eternal suffering. Ever so gently I picked her up and could feel a swelling on her neck.

An abscess. I remember back when I was King of the Vampires when mortal men who were among my subjects would shuffle like the living dead after being bitten by nasty dirty rogue Vampires. Responsible and civilized Vampires such as myself, and those in my court were always clean, knowing that if they took care of their food it would be there for them again when they were hungry. The rouge Vampire who lived in foul caves and holes in the ground smelled like death and putrid rotting flesh. Their fangs were yellow and black.

When they would bite a man, if they did not kill him, the man would become infected with every sort of germ imaginable. Of course we did not know of germs back then. That did not stop the wounds from becoming horrible neck abscesses that had to be lanced and then cleaned with flame and gallons of alcohol. I had seen heads fall off from such vile poisoned Vampire abscesses. It is not a pretty sight.

The last night of the foul rogue Vampire attack I chased them down through the woods. My hounds ran in front of me. My men rode behind me. As I went ahead it started to rain. Lightning flashed and the tree in front of m exploded. A branch fell on me. My horse ran away, as I lay on the ground with a broken arm and a broken fang. As I stood up one of my men ran over me with his horse. He never even saw me and continued to ride. As I limped back to my castle, soaking wet, I wondered what else could go wrong.

My friend Randolpho was waiting for me at the front gate.

“Vlad, you won’t believe this but…guess what I just found out.” he started.

“What?” I snapped at him.

“Guess,” Randolpho said.

“Tell me,” I said ready to tear his throat out. I had no time for his games and riddles.

“Your wife is cheating on you,” my friend said. “Can you believe it? I knew something was up with that bitch.”

Four hundred years later I will not heal my cat with flames.  I did not want her head to fall off so I called the Veterinarian, otherwise known as an animal doctor.

Knowing that my cat would not willingly ride in the car I put a cat carrier cage box on the kitchen table. I attempted to put the cat within the box. She growled and jumped. I fell backwards against a chair. The chair hit the window. The window shattered. My head hit the window sill. Broken glass slashed across my cheek. I was not wearing shoes and stepped on a large shard of glass cutting my foot.

My Vampire lover Gillian came into the room while still drying her hair with a towel.

“Vlad. What happened?” Gillian asked.

“Nothing,” I said.

“You’re going to bleed out. Oh my God, your face.” She grabbed a roll of paper towel and then grabbed me, and then pushed me into a chair. She took the towel from her hair and pressed it to my face. Then she yanked the glass out of my foot. “What happened here?”

It told her. “Everything that could have go wrong did go wrong.”

“Murphy’s Law,” she said. “I’m going to have to stitch up your foot and put a butterfly on your face. You’ll heal fast but it will go quicker if I stitch it.

“Who is this Murphy and what is his law?”

“If anything can go wrong it will.  Murphy’s Law.”

“Who allowed Murphy to do this? Surely he was not elected into office.” Then again it seems like anything that is not either dead or a possum can be elected for a job.

She ignored my question about Murphy. “Do you want me to take the cat to the Vet?”

“I will do it.”

“Fine. I’ll call the handyman and have the window fixed.”

Apparently Gillian does not consider me handy.

“Why do you want to put an insect on my face?” I asked.

“A butterfly bandage. It is a type of bandage not an insect.”

“I did not know,” I told her. “I was locked in a crypt for three hundred years. Do not expect me to know all things that that are modern, especially bandages.”

When she had finished with me Gillian managed to get the cat into the box. She put the cat box on the passenger side of my car, handed me the keys, and told me to be careful.

I arrived at the animal hospital. I could hear the women working there whispering, “He is so cute. Look how adorable he is.”

“My cat is female.” I said to them.

They all started to giggle. I do not understand what make women act in such strange ways when I come into a room.

Another woman who was a doctor to animals looked at my cat. My cat purred. I was still not over joyed by the situation no matter what the cat thought of it. The Animal Doctor gave my cat drugs to heal her and told me to call if the cat did not get better.

At least that went as it should have.

I drove about a mile when I heard a loud noise. My car started to bounce. It was difficult to steer. After pulling over I found that one of my tires had exploded.

I did as I have been advised to by Gillian and my friend Randolpho, who are both well versed in automobiles, and called the number on my towing service card.

After a long wait on the side of the road with my cat, a large tow truck showed up.

A man got out of the truck and looked me up and down as if he was sizing me up. I am quite muscular so I am assuming he thought I might push my car home.

He asked me, “Do you have a spare?”

“Spare what?” I asked.

“A spare tire?”

“I do not know. Should I have one?”

“Pop the trunk,” he asked.

“It is not inflated. The trunk of this car is hard metal,” I said.

“Open the trunk so I can look for a spare tire,” said the man.

The man found a spare tire hidden under a flap in the carpeting in the trunk.

“You’ve never changed a tire,” said the man. It was not a question.

“I know nothing about cars. I never even drove one until about five years ago.”

“What about your dad? Did he drive?”

“No. We used horses. My father never learned to drive.” My father died in 1460. I did not tell the tire changing man that interesting fact.

“What are you Amish or something?”

I do not know what Amish is but I answered, “Something like that.”

“Makes sense by your accent. Nice car. How do you like having an electric car?”

“It is quiet,” I said. Vampires need quiet cars. “I like it.”

As I stood watching the man change my tire, I stood in the sun feeling sick. This was not good. I could imagine my skin starting to blister. I can take a small amount of sun but not this heat which seemed to seer me like a pig on a spit over a bonfire. I thought I was going to vomit but my stomach was empty of all blood or food of any kind.

I could hear the radio of a car driving by blasting the song Sweater Weather. It was indeed sweater weather for anyone who was not a Vampire. That just, what it the term, added insult to injury.

I heard the cat meow sadly from the box on the front seat. Then my stomach started to tell me that I was in dire need of blood. My head was light and all I could do was look at the veins on the man’s neck and forearm.

After getting a spare tire put on my car, and sucking about a pint of blood out of the arm of the AAA man, I left him sleeping on the front seat of his truck with a $50 bill.

I got into my car and noticed a large blood stain on my shirt as if I were some amateur Vampire. Then I noticed my shoe was soaked with blood where the stitches had come out of my foot. I was sunburned. My head throbbed. My hair was a mess.

I need to find this Murphy and kill him.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

After the events of yesterday, my Vampire lover Gillian greeted me with kisses and promises of passion.

After a few minutes of passion she fell asleep.

She fell asleep.

SHE FELL ASLEEP.

I was tempted to look underneath the bed to see if Murphy was there. I am sure I heard laughing.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

Tonight I went out find blood and perhaps some sanity.

I went to a bar I often go to. This particular establishment is frequented by college students, young working people, and those who believe themselves to be, as my friend Randolpho says, bougie.

Two attractive young women approached me. They introduced themselves as Emily and Sammie. I find it odd that at least half of young women I meet are named Emily.

This Emily was tall with long blonde hair and a dazzling long neck. Sammie had red hair of an unusual shade.

“You’re so cute,” Emily said to me.

“Gorgeous,” said Sammie. “So are you up for a little fun? Wanna play with us tonight?”

I was taken aback by their forwardness, but I was also extremely hungry. Yet, something did not seem quite right. Before I could turn down their offer a large man accidentally bumped Sammie and an entire glass of red wine was dumped on my white shirt.

“Oh no,” the young women said in unison.

“Our apartment is just across the street,” said Sammie. “We can rinse the wine out of your shirt before it is perminately stained.”

So I went across the street to the home of the two young women.

They quickly stripped my shirt off of me, leaving me standing bare chested. Both of the women were quick to run their hands over my chest while making purring noises. Then they both kissed me and vanished into another room. Within two minutes they both returned completely naked. I have to admit they were a double vision of perfect female beauty.

I could feel their warmth, and hear the blood pumping through their veins. I could smell it.

Suddenly, as I was ready to take both to the nearby couch they grabbed a handle from the wall and pulled down a hidden bed.

“What is this?” I asked, having never seen such a contraption.

“A Murphy Bed,” said Emily.

May the ancient Gods protect me. I could not stay.

As the women cried after me to come back, I left, with only my jacket, leaving my shirt behind.

When I arrived at my car I took my keys out of my coat pocket. Suddenly something crashed into me. I could smell the stench of dirty human. I turned barring my fangs pushing the foul creature off of me.

It took a look at me and screamed, the grabbed my keys off of the ground and ran into a nearby alley. I ran after it. All of the sudden the dirty human came flying through the air and back at me. It hit me and I fell flat on my back. Something picked up the dirty human and threw it again. I could hear it scuttling off.

A face looked down at me, fangs barred. Then a smile.

“Vlad. Is that you? I thought you were dead!”

“Constantine. My old friend. How long has it been? Wow, the last time I saw you was 1680.”

“It has been a while,” I said, taking my old friend’s hand as he offered to help me up.

He gave me now what I know is called a bro hug.  “Vlad, oh Vlad. Where have you been?”

“I was kidnapped and locked in a crypt for three hundred years. I have only been out for these past six years.”

“Dude. Who did that to you?”

“I do not know,” I told him. “Randolpho and Gillian rescued me.”

Constantine looked me up and down and smiled. “Damn, you’re still the best looking Vampire anywhere, but why no shirt? You look like something off of a bodice ripper romance cover.”

A bodice ripper romance cover. I will have to look that up. “Murphy’s Law,” I said.  “I have an extra shirt in my car. One never knows when stains will occur.”

Now, as in the past, Constantine was always the best dressed Vampire. He was impeccaple tonight in a black suit, with a dark plum colored shirt and a plum colored silk tie. As we walked back to my car I saw that shadows were closing in. Constantine also noticed. We heard foot steps.

My friend and I were surrounded by Vampire Hunters.

Back when I was King of the Vampires, and Constantine was my dandy friend we could just take out our swords.

“Look in their eyes. Capture their souls,” I said quietly to my friend.

He smiled, then showed his fangs.

There were five Vampire Hunters. Two had guns. One had a whip. Two had wooden stakes.

“Oh look, someone is getting ready to plant their spring garden,” said Constantine, mocking the Vampire hunters and their stakes.

“Put down your weapons,” I said quietly. “Look at me. You are in the presence of the King of Vampires.” I caught the eyes of three of them. They put down their weapons. “Sit down. Stay still.”

“Don’t look at their faces. Don’t listen to them,” yelled one of the two left standing. Constantine approached them. A gun went off. I saw a dark shining stain start to swell on his shoulder.

“Damn. That was one of my favorite suits,” said my friend. He jumped on the man with the gun and slammed him to the ground. What happened next I will pass on describing. I will just say a good tailor and dry cleaner will be needed to fix that suit. I took on the second man still standing. After showing him my fangs he dropped the whip he held and ran.

When we were done, I said, “Murphy’s law.”

“That was more of a SNAFU,” said Constantine.

“SNAFU?” I asked. I had never heard of a SNAFU.

“Situation Normal: All Fucked Up.”

“I see,” I said. “That makes sense in a confusing sort of way.”

“Listen Vlad, you’re doing great considering how much catching up you’ve had to do.”

I dropped my friend off at his house, and I went home to my cats.

The first thing I did was look up Bodice Ripper on the Internet.

That was interesting.

The next thing I did was take a shower. While I closed my eyes under the cold water I heard a door open. My eyes flew open. I was ready for a fight. Fortunately it was Gillian. She took off her clothes and got in with me.

“Turn up the heat,” she said.

“I will definitely turn up the heat,” I said.

The rest of the evening went splendidly without any interference from Murphy. There were no interruptions. No SNAFU. No broken glass, stray possums, Vampire Hunters, or stains of any kind. We slept the deep sleep of lovers entangled in each other’s arms and legs. It was the peaceful dreamless and quiet sleep of the undead. It was a rare blessing, something Vampires savor and prize.

Then tomorrow…tomorrow I will find this Murphy and I will kill him. I am Vlad, former King of the Vampires. The cats came in and curled up at our feet, as if to say, we will keep you safe tonight, for we are cats, and we are the ones who now rule all.

~ Vlad

Kissed by a Vampire

Kissed by a Vampire

 

This has been 55th installment of Vlad’s Vampire Diary.

It is also a lame entry into the 7th Annual Contest of Whatever at the Evil Squirrel’s Nest. And if you’re out driving in your car watch for urban wildlife. Possums are our pals.

The Seventh Annual Contest Of Whatever!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman