Short Story Sunday: Chicken Dance

“You don’t have to wear that mask Charlie. I’m not sick.”

“Mom, there is a pandemic going on. I don’t want you to become sick. I can’t risk that.”

“Well, I don’t go anywhere.”

“I go places mom. I’m out in public.”

“What about Austin? He sees me without a mask.”

“I’m part of your bubble Grammy.” said Austin. “Most of my work is from home. Remember I told you about teaching my classes on Zoom.”

Grammy furrowed her brow. “Zoom? Is that fast classes so you won’t spread the Covid?”

“No Grammy, it is classes over the computer, on the Internet,” said Austin.

“Well, if you’re not teaching or messing around with old houses you’re working with dead people. Damn Vampires can’t get the Covid. At least my grandson decided to follow in the family footsteps and do something about the vermin,” said Grammy.

“So how are you mom,” said Charlie.

“Chicken died,” said Grammy.

Austin spoke first. “What? Chicken? Did raccoons get her?”

“When did this happen?” Charlie asked his mother.

“This morning,” said Grammy.

“Mom. Oh no. How?”

“I don’t know. I think Kayla killed her.”

“Grammy, why would Kayla kill Chicken?” Austin knew Grammy’s caretaker would never hurt any animal.

“I don’t know. Maybe she just got tired of her,” said Grammy.

“How did she kill Chicken?” Charlie asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe she chopped off Chicken’s head.”

“Mom, Kayla didn’t kill Chicken.”

“You don’t know that,” said Grammy

“Mom…”

“Austin, have you been hunting any Vampires lately?”

“No, things have slowed down over the holidays and haven’t picked up, thank goodness,” said Austin.

“Maybe Vampires got Chicken,” said Charlie.

“Don’t be a smart ass Charles. You know they don’t eat chicken, much less suck out their blood,” said Grammy.

“I wouldn’t know mom. I never hunted Vampires.”

“You never had the talent for it. Austin on the other hand got that gene for sniffing out and killing those pesky damned undead creatures.”

Kayla, Grammy’s caretaker came in followed by a small pack of small dogs. “Good morning. Hey, his Charlie. It’s been a while.”

They made a few words of small talk as the dogs bounced all over Charlie and Austin.

Then Kayla said, “We lost Chicken.”

“I know, we heard,” said Austin.

“She was pecking at some wires so that might have killed her. I don’t know. She might have just died of natural causes. Poor Chicken.”

They talked more about Chicken and made more small talk. Then Grammy said, “Go out in the yard Austin and get some lemons. We’re going to make a lemon pie.”

“Good idea,” said Charlie.

“It will keep the Vampires away. They don’t much like pie,” said Grammy. Then she giggled like a little girl.

“She was one of the most fierce Vampire Hunters of the 20th Century,” Charlie told Kayla.

“I can believe that Charlie,” Kayla said with a smile. “She is still pretty fierce.”

“You’re right about that,” said Charlie. “You certainly are.”

~ end

This is my first new story for quite a few weeks. All of the Covid isolation, construction at my house, and other weirdness has sort of, well, not been conducive to creativity. As always, stay safe, wear a mask, turn off the news, go for walks, talk to and with your kids, listen to your kids, don’t be a dick, be kind, and kiss a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

My Own Vampire (A Christmas Story for 2020)

No amount of coffee could help Austin Durant out of his funk. Everyone knew Austin as a history professor and restorer of historic buildings. Only a few knew he was also a vampire hunter. 

A visit to his Grammy usually cheered him up. Grammy always knew what to say. He fixed her a plate of Christmas cookies he’d baked the day before and drove over to her house. He told her he’d be there in the morning with muffins, but he needed his sleep.

“Sorry I’m late Grammy,” said Austin. “I got a call last night about a job. I had to take it.”

“What kind of job? Teaching? Construction? Vampire hunting?”

“Vampire hunting. I hate doing this around the holidays Grammy, but it was bad. I couldn’t say no.”

“You look like crap. What happened?”

“Since the pandemic lock-downs in February there have been a lot of similar suicides. It is always some guy who lives alone. It is always someone who is depressed and hurting.”

“Go on,” said Grammy. “Tell me about this vampire.”

 “She finds them on dating aps.”

“What’s a dating ap?”

“It is a computer program, an application where people post photos and information so they can meet.”

“For sex?”

“Sure, usually, but not always. Anyway, she goes online…”

“On her computer?”

“Yes, on her computer. She finds guys who are lonely and alone. Then she goes to their house for what the victim thinks is going to be a hot night with a hot girl. A day, or week later, the guy is found in the bathtub with his wrists slit. It is clearly a suicide due to loneliness or whatever.”

“You want a beer?”

“Sure. Sometimes she stays and has sex with them then kills them. Other times she just kills them. The worst thing is… she goes on Facebook…”

“I have a Facebook account.”

“Right, she goes on their page pretending to be the guy right before she killed him and talks about being depressed and lonely. She talks about not wanting to spend Christmas alone. She pretends to be the guy she just killed. Then she fills up a cooler with his blood, puts him in the tub, and turns on the water so whoever finds him assumes all of his blood went down the drain.”

“She sounds like a creeper to me. Did you kill her?”

“Yeah, I did. I got in contact with her. I asked if she wanted to hook up and had her meet me in that house over on 37thI’m doing the restoration on.”

“What did she look like?”

“Gorgeous. She had on a tight red dress and a Santa hat no less. But there was no life in her eyes, and her skin had that sort of chalky dry look a lot of them get if they haven’t fed for a while. I told her I wasn’t looking for anything except sex. She was fine with it. I took her to a bedroom and killed her, for a second time.”

“How?”

“I held her down and cut out her heart. She didn’t have much blood in her so, you know, there wasn’t much of a mess.”

“So why are you looking like you lost your puppy? It isn’t like she had a soul.”

“I checked in her purse. Her name was Sandy. She was born in 1960. I looked her up. She disappeared in 1981. It was always assumed she was murdered considering the amount of blood found in her bedroom. December 13, 1981, she lost her life, and her soul. The thing I killed wasn’t her, but it carried around her wallet for thirty years.”

“I hope you hid the body.”

“She kind of dried up and looked like she’d been dead for, well, thirty years. I took her to a field and called the police with a burner phone. Forensics will show she has been dead since the day she vanished.”

“Her family will be sad, but relieved. Believe me, I’ve been through this more times than I want to think about.”

“Grammy, I don’t know why this one hit me so hard. It wasn’t like she was the kind of vampire we don’t kill.”

“Speak for yourself young man.”

“Ones with a soul. They’re not all ghouls without substance.”

“So they tell you.”

“So you’ve told me.”

“I’m not dissing on your cold blooded friends. I’ve got vampires of my own. I bet you didn’t know that. That’s right, you just think I’m a crusty old lone vampire hunter. Let me tell you a story. Bring me another beer too. Did I ever tell you how I met your Grandpa Joe?” 

“No, you did not.”

“Well, I’ll tell you now. It was December 23, almost Christmas Eve. I was driving down the road and almost hit a young woman walking along the edge. Holy crap balls, she was wearing a torn party dress with her coat over her shoulder, and tears in her eyes. She said her boyfriend had dumped her on the side of the road when she broke up with him. So I took her home. No big deal. 

The next night I was sitting in a bar. It was 1950 but it wasn’t all June Cleaver and all of that bull shit. Some of us had lives. I was twenty one and a free American so I thought I could do whatever I wanted to do. I was also one bad ass vampire hunter by then. God damn I could pick them out no matter how hard they tried to hide from me. There I was sitting at the bar chatting up a couple of nice young fellows, not really looking for trouble. You know Austin, even then I was hunting more than my share of vampires. Sometimes a girl just needs a night off. You know, cute blue collar guys. When this man comes in an sits next to me. I can feel the cold and believe me it wasn’t from the open door. 

Damn, if he wasn’t the best looking thing I’ve ever seen outside of a movie theater. He looks at me with big brown eyes, then those eyes start to turn dark. If I hadn’t been in a public place I would have either run or jumped his bones then killed him.”

“Granny!”

“Oh, come on Austin. I was young once. Don’t think you’re the only one who has rolled in the hay with vampires. Stop interrupting me. So, I asked him what he wants. His eyes turn a hazel green and I almost swoon, but then get my wits because that is what vampires do. They seduce like nothing else. Damn. I resist. He smiles. Then he thanks me for giving his daughter a ride home the night before. His daughter. Before then I didn’t even know vampires have children. 

Then he says, I know you’re alone this Christmas. You want people to think you’re tough. You’re a vampire hunter so your blood should be as cold as mine, figuratively speaking. You’re alone. Your man dumped you for a woman you considered a whore. Your family is all gone. You’re too proud to reach out to any of your fair weather drinking buddies.

Before I could tell him he didn’t know what he was talking about, even though everything he said was the truth, he handed me a card.

Thomas Kent
Poet

And there was an address. It was the same beautiful home I’d dropped his daughter off at the night before.

Come over later tonight, he said. 

What do you mean by Poet? I asked. I wasn’t nice about it either. Who the hell puts Poet on their business card?

He leaned in close to my ear and said, it means exactly that.

I nearly froze to the bone, but damn it he was attractive in a way I couldn’t explain. I was drawn to him, not in a romantic way, but in a warm way, like going to a Christmas party with Champagne and really good chocolates, and you’re wearing the perfect dress, and it looks damn good on you. I’d already killed nearly three dozen of the blood sucking ghouls in my short life, but this was different.

You’re different Thomas Kent, I said to him.

He smiled without a hint of fang. I have a soul, he said. In fact, I have two souls.

Austin squinted at his Grammy. “You didn’t know there were different kinds of vampires?”

“Not back then. Like that girl you saw last night. She was nothing but a shell. But Thomas Kent never lost his soul, but holy bat shit the man was still a vampire. I’d never encountered one of them before. By them I mean his kind.”

“Did you go to his house?”

“Of course I did. If you get an invitation from a vampire it isn’t always the best idea to turn it down. I would have killed them all if they’d shown any aggressions. Don’t look surprised grandson, I was the best there was back in the day.”

“I know you were Grammy.”

“I went to the house, which is in a beautiful part of town, you know where it is. I got up to the front door and looked at the card to see if I had the right address. It had been raining the night before and I just dropped the girl off. It was the damndest thing. As I stepped up to the front door the address vanished off of the card. Completely vanished. 

Some stiff man in a dark suit, I think he was the hired help butler kind of guy answered the door. I wanted to call him Count Orlok but held my tongue. Thomas Kent came up to me with his hands out and let me into the room. His daughter stood by the fireplace as beautiful as any living woman. The most wonderful Christmas Tree I had ever seen was there, decorated all in silver and gold. The place was beautiful, not the usually dusty creepy vampire lair I was used to. I would have lived there. 

Then Thomas takes me aside and says to me it would be so easy to turn you from vampire hunter to vampire tonight. I know you like what you see.

Then he smiled at me flashing a hint of fang. I was ready to pull out my dagger, when just like in some stupid movie, the doorbell rang, and the butler brought in a tall young man. He had that cute boyish look with dimples and light brown hair that was just a little too long. The guy wasn’t a vampire, that was clear. He put out his nice warm hand and introduced himself as Joe.”

Austin stopped her. “Grandpa? That was how you met Grandpa?”

“That was your Gramps. He had no idea vampires even existed. He had no idea there were people like me who roamed the streets at night keeping everyone safe from ghouls and shadows. 

Later that night, after wine and a lot of interesting stories, Thomas spoke to me in private. He thanked me for helping his daughter and told me he’d always have my back. He said I will be your vampire. If you help a vampire it will always be there for you.” 

Austin raised an eyebrow. “Did he? Was he always there for you?”

“I don’t know. I never saw him again after that night. I married your Gramps three month later. Damn I miss him. It has been ten years and it feels sometimes like he died yesterday.”

“I miss him too Grammy. I miss him every single day.”

“I gotta ask you Austin. Do you have your own vampire?”

“I think I have a few.”

“Good to know. Still if I were you I wouldn’t trust them too much.”

“I never put down my guard Grammy.”

“Good. You know what else?”

“What Grammy?”

“They have the prettiest Christmas trees.”

“Good to know Grammy. I’ll keep that in mind the next time a vampire invites me over at Christmas time.”

They had another beer and Austin took a nap on Grammy’s couch. Her old cat curled up by his side, keeping eye open, only as the cat of a vampire hunter will do.

On the way home that evening Austin thought about Sandy and how difficult it must have been for her family never knowing what happened to her. He smiled thinking of my own family, and of his own vampires. Like his family, they watch his back. And as their human he watched theirs. 

Instead of going home he stopped by his on and off girlfriend Elizabeth’s house. Grammy was right about the Christmas Trees. Elizabeth’s was spectacular covered with glass ornaments shaped like every sort of animal and sea creature on earth. 

Later as they cuddled on the couch watching LA LA Land for the 4th time he kissed her cold lips. 

“Will you be my vampire Elizabeth?”

“I’m already your vampire Austin.”

“Good to know. Love you baby.”

She nuzzled his neck, nipping him with her teeth. “Love you too. Merry Christmas.”

~ end

Silver Webs and Silken Bats

Silver Webs and Silken Bats

Oh right, I do have a husband. I write about kids, my brothers, other Vampires, Werewolves, Ghosts, cats, short stories and all sorts of things. I don’t say much about my husband or marriage.

Today he is helping the Elders decorate for Christmas.

He found old netting of silver spider webs and long strings of red glass beads to add to the old fragile ornaments they put up every year.

Over the past few years they stopped decorating but Teddy (my husband) decided they needed a tree.

In the attic he found boxes of hand blown glass owls, small wooden elves from Germany, tiny little bats made of beaded black silk and a large hat box full of shining stars and crescent moons with smiling faces.

Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you need to stop celebrating.

“But who will see the tree?” The ancient Vampires looked confused.

“You will see it,” said Teddy. “I will see it. Your friends will stop by and see it. You need to pick up the phone and call your friends, both Vampires and humans. Call your old Werewolf friends too, I don’t care who you like. If they’re old let me know and I’ll give them a ride here and I’ll give them a ride home. I’ll make them egg nog. I’ll help you make it happen for everyone.”

Tellias and Eleora look young but they’re ancient. They’re older than Christmas, so sometimes they get confused or feel isolated. Sometimes they forget everything outside of their own house.

Teddy always hounds me to call my friends and people I know who might need a friend. We all know what it is like to spend a holiday alone or without cheer of others. Even a little tree or a wreath or a shining star on a string can make a difference. More than that a hug or a call.

Christmas time is about the promise of peace and hope and love. After 2021 years the human race still hasn’t gotten it right, but maybe one day. The smallest acts of kindness can move us closer in that direction.

Wishing you all a season of peace and fellowship.

And about that husband of mine…I’m glad I married him. I always will be.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Christmas Orphans (a short random tale)

Christmas Orphans (a short random tale)

“Why do I have eyes of different colors? The brown eye is my own. The blue eye is a different story. I plucked it from the freshly dead body of a young Irish nun. She’d killed herself because she had a vision that the child she was carrying, the child of the handsome young priest, was the Antichrist.”

“Why were you there Uncle Jeff?” A young voice in a hushed whisper asked.

“Because, my dear, I was the handsome young priest. That was before the life I live now. But I still see visions of angels and of a family in a warm embrace of love, then the fires of Hell with dancing devils and…”

“JEFF. STOP IT,” I yelled. “You’re going to give them nightmares.”

I know better than to ask my crazy brother to tell Christmas stories to my children and their young cousins.

“But, Simon, the stories are true,” my brother said as if he believed what he was saying.

“Kids, don’t listen to him. He’s blowing stories out of his…out of his ears.”

“Did I tell you about the time I met Santa Claus?”

“Jeff, no more storytelling.”

“It was the winter of 1969.”

“Jeff you were a toddler in 1969.”

“You have no idea how old I really am. Brother I have secrets that will make your head explode. Now children, the rest of the researchers on the Arctic research station had died of a mysterious illness. Then the giant polar two ton bears came. I’ll never forget the sound of them crunching on the bones of my friends.”

“Giant two ton polar bears?”

My brother and the children ignored me as he continued his tale. “I wouldn’t let them eat the dogs so we took off with the sled north, following the stars. Frozen and hungry, my body could take no more. Out of my blue eye I could see my angel Bernadette, the nun I’d loved. Her visions…”

“Jeff!”

“Then I heard bells. Not big bells like the Liberty Bell, but small happy bells. A lot of bells. I thought I was in a dream. My dogs huddled close. Then we saw them. The Zombies…”

I went to the kitchen for a beer. My wife and Jeff’s weird Goth girlfriend were talking about how to make the perfect prime rib.

Spotting my sister Libby out on the deck I went out to join her.

“It’s cold out.”

“Cold but not as weird as it is inside.”

“Do you think there is any truth to his stories.”

“I don’t know. He has memories of before we were found. All the records still say we were abandoned at the rest stop outside of Barstow. Nobody came forward to claim us. We’re related for sure, the DNA tests prove that, and we look like each other  but…”

My sister shrugged. “I did more research but didn’t find anything. Nothing. It is like we were dropped by aliens.”

“Or Santa Claus.” I said.

We were found on Christmas Day, three tiny children. Our dad was the highway patrolman who found us. Jeff was the oldest, then Libby and I was just a baby. The doctors figured Jeff was around three, Libby maybe two and I was a newborn. We were all wearing hand knitted Christmas sweaters and red Santa hats.

Our life was happy and normal with our new parents. They loved us unconditionally. They still do.

I never thought about who might have left us at the rest stop with typed notes saying “Merry Christmas. Please keep us together,” pinned on our sweaters.

Libby and I went back inside to catch the end of Jeff’s story.

“In the morning Santa and I sat on the beach listening to the crashing waves. I passed him the bottle of whiskey we were sharing and he put his hand on back and said “Good job son, good job.”

~ End

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

An Angel or A Devil? A True Crime Mystery.

An Angel or A Devil? A True Crime Mystery.

On a cold December morning in 1859 the bodies of a man and a woman were found on the banks of the American River, near the town of Folsom, California.

Walter and Mathilda Carlson, a couple in their late 20’s had been gruesomely killed during the night and left for the coyotes and turkey vultures.  Mathilda’s eyes had been either poked out and taken by her murderer or eaten by scavenging animals. Her neck was broken with obvious great strength. Walter was a good twenty feet down the beach. He was naked except for his red socks. He’d been beaten badly with signs of broken bones in his arms and legs. A gaping hole in his chest showed an empty place where his heart, now missing, had once been. On his face was an expression of horror even the most skilled undertaker couldn’t remove. 

The men who removed the bodies and the Sheriff all said they saw a figure in the woods, perhaps dressed in white, or maybe gray, watching them as they worked. One of the men went to question the witness, but they vanished like a ghost in the morning fog.

The Carlsons had come to town only six months before their murder. He was an attorney. She was a caring mother of two young children, aged one and three years. The Carlsons also cared for Walter’s younger sister Lena, who was said to be insane.

Walter Carlson also had a brother, Charley, who lived in San Francisco. At one time Charley and his English friend Cornelius Jones had been business partners with Walter. As they told the Sheriff after the murders, on the night Walter and Mathilda left San Francisco, Cornelius had planned on asking Lena for her hand in marriage. Neither Charley or Cornelius knew where Walter had taken Lena. Cornelius was sick with grief.

When the Carson family arrived in Folsom they settled in quickly. Walter was a welcome addition to the community. The beautiful and charitable Mathilda was adored by all who met her. 

Lena worked with her brother and sister-in-law. She was an odd young woman who walked with a limp and wore and eye patch. Her face might have been pretty if not for the constant look of overwhelming sadness, and the cropped dirty hedgehog like hair that spouted from her scalp. 

Walter Carlson was quick to tell everyone she insane. They didn’t have the heart to put her into an asylum. Besides, she was a hard worker and if they kept her under control she could be a great help with the babies. All who knew Mathilda said she was a saint for giving a home to her crazy sister-in-law.

One night one of the Irish workers in town said he thought he saw two figures outside of the small one room building Lena stayed in. One looked like an angel spreading its wings and the other like a dog with a long tail, until it stood up upon two feet and looked like a demon. It was foggy that night, so it might have been men passing by and stopping to take a break, or to see if they could get a look at the crazy woman locked in the shed. 

A few days later, in the rubbish pile behind the Carlson’s shop people found books of the writer Edgar Poe, Charles Maturin, and Oscar Wilde, with Lena’s name written inside each book in her neat fine handwriting. Carlson said the books put wicked and carnal thoughts into his sister’s head. 

One day in late November a number of people overheard a heated discussion between Mathilda, Walter, and Lena.

“An angel of God will smite you down and then send for the Devil to come take your soul. Just you see,” wailed Lena.

“You’ll burn in Hell girl just for saying that. You are nothing but a filthy harlot,” Mathilda shot back.

“And you will be judged for harming a kind and gentle man who has done nothing but bring good to others,” said Lena. Some who heard this thought there were tears in her voice and down her face from her one good eye.

“You let him defile you,” said Walter with a voice full of hate and judgment.

“I gladly allowed Cornelius love me. I wanted him to love me. I love him and he loves me in turn. He wanted to marry me,” said Lena who was not weeping.

“No respectable man would have you Lena. You worship sin and are nothing but a child of Satan,” said Mathilda.

“Our parents should have drown you at birth,” said Walter, who then slammed the window of his office down, and drew the curtains closed.

Later Walter told several friends in confidence that he thought his sister was involved in Devil Worship.

Lena was rarely out of the sight of either her brother or sister-in-law. When she was alone it was because she was locked up in a small building behind the Carson’s house. One day she managed to get out on her own and get a letter to the post office. She said it was to her brother in San Francisco and that it must be sent. The Post Master thought nothing of the letter, until Walter came bursting into the post office the next day demanding the letter back. By then it was too late. The letter had already been sent.

The next morning Walter and Mathilda were found dead on the banks of the American River.

The babies were found crying in the Carlson home. Lena was locked in the filthy shed behind the house.

Suspicion fell upon Lena, but there was no way such a small woman could have committed such a violent crime upon two people who were obviously healthier and stronger than she was. 

On the third day after the murders Charley Carlson and Cornelius Jones came to claim the bodies and take custody of Lena and the Carlson’s small children.

It was then that the truth about Walter and Mathilda came out.

While they were all living in San Francisco Mathilda had sent spies to watch Lena and Cornelius. Lena had gone with Cornelius to his home one afternoon. They made love without the knowledge that someone had been watching through the window. This event was reported back to Mathilda who then reported the event to Walter. 

Walter confronted Cornelius and told him that his sister would never be allowed to marry a half Jewish Englishman of questionable parentage. 

Walter then sent two men to beat Cornelius to within an inch of his life. The next day Walter and his family were gone, taking Lena with them. 

Before they arrived in Folsom, Walter and Mathilda held Lena down and cut off her hair. Next they gouged out her eye with a sharp knife. They then beat her until she was broken and bleeding. Until the day she died she walked with a limp due to their cruelty. They told her that no man would be tempted by her again. They told the people of the town that she was crazy and sick. Anyone could see that just by looking at her. 

The murderers were never found. Charley and his wife adopted the two babies. Lena and Cornelius were married and lived a long and happy life together. 

To this day some people say that it was both an angel and a demon who worked together to save Lena. The angel took them down and the demon took their souls to Hell. Some say through the morning fog they can still see the shadows of a winged figure and a man with a long thin tail walking along the riverbank. 

Or it could have been a madman traveling through. We will never know.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Note: Over the years, always in December, there have also been sightings of a beautiful woman with no eyes walking along the edge of Lake Natoma, where the American River flows deep underneath between the dams, her skirts dragging along the edge of the water. It is said she cries for the babies she’ll never see again. You never know what ghosts you’ll see on cold December nights. You never know. 

A Christmas Journey (with Vampires, a cat, a train ride and a fight)

A Christmas Journey (with Vampires, a cat, a train ride and a fight)

People don’t know who or what we are. We’ve kept it that way for centuries, as stories and myths over ride any sense of reality in the minds of men.

In December of 1875 tragedy came into our lives. My best friend Isabelle fell under the spell of rogue Vampires and almost killed my brother Max’s best friend, who was the son of my parent’s closest regular human friends. You see, for those of you who are new here, we’re Vampires. As part of the Modern Vampire movement, we go by the rule that nobody is ever turned into a Vampire without consent.

Anyway, scandal was the only word for it. My parents were upset at the prospect of Isabella or any of her rogue friends contacting, or corrupting my brother Valentine or me so we were to be sent away for a few months to keep us out of trouble. The plan was to send us to New York to say with my Grandmama Lola for Christmas. I was sixteen and Val was seventeen, and the prospect of the big city was more exciting than anything we’d ever experienced. Best of all it got us away from the eyes of our parents.

Yet, Val and I were also angry that my parents had so little trust in us that they thought it necessary to ship us off clear across the country. After all, we were practically adults. In fact, in most circles at that time we would have been considered adults who could get employment, get married or live independently.

My father’s friend Nathaniel Chase agreed to take Val and I from California to New York City on the train. Nathaniel had his own private luxury car so nobody thought there would be any problems. Nathaniel was the very image of the sophisticated and charming Modern Vampire. He was also cunning and dangerous in his own ways – enough to take care of two over active Vampire teens. What trouble could a couple of teens get into when watched over by a four hundred year old Vampire?

On the first night Val and I explored the train. There were dining cars, first class, second class, other private luxury cars and all sorts of interesting people. Nathaniel was busy with “business.” Unfortunately that didn’t last for long. He was scolding us for getting too friendly with people, running, sticking our heads out the window and laughing too loud. That was just the short list.

On the second night he caught Val in an embrace with an attractive woman from San Francisco. That didn’t go over too well either. Val used the excuse he was just being a Vampire. Nathaniel knew better.

On the third night there was a party in another private car in which there were plates full of beautiful treats. I had my first eclaire. It was huge – the size of a man’s hand. That with a stomach full of warm blood (from a handsome nineteen year old who claimed to be the son of a famous minister), a bottle of sparkling pink wine (which I wasn’t supposed to have) and sugar (which makes Vampires absolutely ill) had me throwing up most of the night.

By the time we got to our first stay over in Chicago, Nathaniel Chase was ready to lock the both of us up for good. But he didn’t.

We stayed in a large new mansion built after the great fire of 1871. It was there for Vampires of our rank. Val and I were in heaven. Off of the train with Nathaniel gone most of the time!

Nathaniel had given us a full set of rules and warnings. Bite only on the wrist, not the neck. Don’t go into questionable parts of town (he supplied coordinates.) Do not talk to Vampires you don’t know. Don’t be turned by a pretty face. Watch for Vampire Hunters. Stay close to the house. Shop, have fun, act normal. Under no circumstance let anyone suspect you are different. Don’t act like children.

Val and I did all that and more. We were the perfect little citizens. At parties everyone commented on how charming young well-mannered people we were. I’m sure that warmed the cold heart of the old Vampire Nathaniel Chase.

On our fourth day in Chicago Val and I were walking along at dusk when we heard a great commotion coming from a warehouse. And you would be right if you guessed we were in a part of town we shouldn’t have been in.

Inside of the building a large group of men were standing in an impromptu arena yelling and cheering. We thought it might be a boxing match until we realized it was a dog fight. Beasts of all sizes had been brought in to tear each other apart. We could smell the blood and the fear in the dogs. We could also smell the excitement and blood lust in the men who watched the fights. I held Val’s arm, utterly appalled by what I saw. Ears were torn off, bowels were torn open and dogs howled and whimpered in pain.

Then just as I thought I’d seen enough a large man held something out to five growling dogs.

“I present you Lucifer. Tonight you will see before your very eyes these dogs devour the devil.” And he held up a black kitten of about 5 months who cried with pitiful mews of fear. My cold blood boiled.

Hiking up my skirts I climbed the ropes around the arena and entered the ring. I yelled at the man to put down the cat. He laughed. Then I growled at him showing my fangs. In horror the man lashed out striking me across the face. His large ring made a gash across my cheek. Val jumped the ropes and came to my rescue. Knocking them man down he was about to tear his arm off when someone grabbed us up by our collars and threw both of us out into the snow.

Nathaniel Chase and two other Vampires stood there looking at us in disgust. We could hear the commotion inside of the warehouse grow louder.

Nathaniel pulled me to him and yanked me into a waiting carriage. “You could have had us all killed.” His coat smelled slightly of patchouli and roses. I saw a long light brown hair against the black of his jacket. He’d been visiting a woman. I should have known.

“You were with a woman weren’t you?” I glared at him with the triumph of someone too stupid to know what I was saying.

His eyes lit up with a fire and he pulled me around in front of his face holding both of my arms like vices. “It isn’t just small animals that they kill. They kill what they do not know or understand. They kill what they fear. They kill anything they see as evil.”

“But they’re evil themselves,” I stammered back, unable to move or remove myself from his glare.

“No, it is their world, so be it if it is ruled by ignorance and superstition. You must NEVER show yourself for what you are. Never. So help me God Juliette, if you ever do anything like this again I will make sure you will spend the rest of your days drinking rancid blood out of a gourd, in a dungeon so deep you’ll forget there are stars in the sky.”

He let me go and turned to my brother. “As for you Valentine. I have no words to express my disappointment in you.”

One of the other Vampires, an elegant looking man called Joseph pulled a small black kitten out of his coat pocket and handed it to me. “I believe this is yours. Do not forget the price you paid for his freedom.”

All the way back Nathaniel lectured us on responsibility and stupidity. When we returned to the house he vanished into the study with the two men. We were told to go to our rooms and stay there until midnight.

I lay on my bed and cried my heart out. Val came in and sat quietly next to me. We were utter failures.

When the large clock at the end of the hall struck midnight we left the room and went in search of Nathaniel Chase.

On the balcony he stood cradling the sleeping kitten in his arms. He quietly sang to himself in Welsh the old song “All Through the Night.”

All the stars’ twinkles say

All through the night

“This is the way to the realm of glory,”

All through the night.

Darkness is another light

That exposes true beauty

The Heavenly family in peace

All through the night.

“You have Lucifer,” I said stroking the purring kitten under his chin.

Nathaniel gave me a rare smile. “His name is Gabrielle now. He’ll go where I go. Do you know who Gabrielle was.”

“I believe an arch angel,” said Val.

“Gabrielle was a messenger. So is this little beast in my arms, brought to us in order to teach the two of you humility. But also to teach me what good hearts you have. Compassion is a rare and wonderful thing. It can also be a danger if you react in fear and by letting your heart lead the way.” He held up a hand knowing what I was going to say. “Your heart and the feelings of your heart are important. But you must be smart. You must not be like your friend Isabelle who turned a man into a Vampire, almost killing him and committing his soul to Hell. She claimed it was romantic but it was cruel and selfish.” He handed me the cat now called Gabriel. “Take care of this cat until we get to your Grandmama’s, then he is mine. And Juliette, remember that we are like dark angels who inhabit the night. No matter how much good we may do we are still to be feared by those who are not our kind.”

Gabrielle lived for another twenty two years and went everywhere with Nathaniel Chase.

Val and I got to our Grandmama Lola’s house in New York City by Christmas Eve night.

Nathaniel Chase still doesn’t have much confidence in me. I made mistakes with my heart over the years, as did Val. But we learned that we must keep our hearts to ourselves and take action with our brains and with conviction and with deliberate action.

A few weeks ago I visited Nathaniel, along with my brother Val and my husband Teddy. He still looked the same as he did in 1875. He still has a black cat. The current one is named Michael. They’re all named after angels. Small dark angels of hope and love.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas from all of the Vampires and their cats.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman.

This story was first posted December, 2013