Short Story Sunday: Springtime

Springtime

“A toast to springtime and love,” said Andy lifting his glass.

“To love? At least I know unicorns are real. I’m not so sure about love but, I’ll toast it with you. To love, and springtime,” said James lifting his glass and touching it to Andy’s. “I loved a woman once, but I didn’t know it. She was a Vampire of singular beauty and oddness. Nights with her were nothing but passion. We had a link between our souls where I gave and she received. Physically she gave and I received. I assumed she liked it, but then she left made a lot of bad choices. I wanted to be the only bad choice but I wasn’t. Then she told me to make a good choice and I didn’t pick her. I should have. She never contacted me. I assume that she assumed that I was with somebody else, and she would be right. But years passed, and I was with a lot of women I thought … well, I didn’t think. I never think. I really don’t care. I have fun. They have fun. But for some reason I’ve been thinking about her, and I know she knows.”

“Too late my friend,” said Andy. “It has been 112 years since you saw her. Do you really think she thinks about you?”

“No, but as long as I’m thinking about love. Actually I never think about love. But the wine is good tonight. Thanks.”

“You tried to seduce my sister once.”

“I tried to seduce your sister about a dozen times. It never worked but it was fun trying.”

“You’re going at it all wrong. James, my friend, I’ve loved a kind of love you can’t seem to understand. I’ve felt the soul of the woman I love leave her body when she died in my arms. Alas I fall for mortal women, but you…you act so uncaring, yet, you want that romance. You want perfection. You want goodness. You want something your heart can’t comprehend.”

James shrugged and opened the French doors leading to the garden. “I need some air.”

At 2:00 a.m. they could hear the song of a mocking bird in a tree down the block. They could hear the sound of a random car. They heard the quiet of a cool March evening.

“You hungry?” Andy asked, “We could order in.”

“No,” said James. “I don’t feel like it tonight. I’d rather go out, or just skip dinner altogether.”

“You’re always so crass and funny. What’s up with the somber lovelorn guy act?”

“I don’t know Andy. Maybe it’s the full moon. Maybe I’m just feeling my age.”

“Maybe you should look her up.”

“I did.”

“And?”

“Nothing. Married. Children. Her husband is a big time alpha Vampire guy. No. There are others. She was just one. So I move on. But it isn’t a bad thing.”

“You’re right. It isn’t a bad thing.”

James looked up at the night sky, searching for stars that were hidden by the urban lights.

On the edge of the fence pixies in tiny gossamer dresses walked in single file, their wings folded up on their tiny backs. The whispered among each other about lost loves and fools. Then they giggled in unison as glittering dust fell on the ground below them.

Andy glanced at them, but then turned his attention back to his friend, and the conversation changed to everything but love, romance, and most of all the women they’d known, and maybe loved.

~ End

 

Note: I first posted this in March 2016. I’ll try to have a new story next week. There is a an Artistic roller skating meet today so I’m off watching amazing things.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: Going Through With It

Tangled Tales

Pierce licked his finger then ran it across the cut on his friend’s arm. It was a nasty six inch cut.

“So, Max, what exactly happened? I thought you were going to the archives.”

“I was. I did. My car was surrounded by Vampire Hunters. It was stupid of me to go out unarmed, but every other Vampire does. You know Pierce, we should have to deal with this off the job.”

“What happened?”

“They pulled out their knives and crosses, as if a cross is going to stop me. I had my keys out and pressed the horn button. I thought that would chase them off but they kept coming. There were six of them. Six.”

“You’ve been in worse situations,” said Pierce.

“Sure, but they were good. I’d never seen them before but they’d done this before. One of them cut me. As soon as my blood hit the ground the wind kicked up and there was a loud screeching sound. And there she was, damn Pierce, a Demon. She spread her wings and spit poison. They, the Vampire Hunters ran. Cowards.”

“What is it with you and Demons?”

“What do you mean me and Demons?”

“They like you.”

“I don’t know. She smiled at me with a weird light in those yellow eyes and told me that I owed her. I told her that I didn’t owe her shit. Her eyes went black and she flew away. Holy shit it was weird. It’s the leather wings that creep me out.”

“To say the least,” said Pierce. “All the girls like you Max.”

“Not funny Pierce.”

“Did you get the documents?”

“They’re in my bag.”

Pierce put gauze over Max’s wound, then he covered it with his hand.

“You don’t have to do that,” said Max.

“Sure I do,” said Pierce. He closed his eyes then winced a little. After a few minutes he removed his hand and unwrapped the gauze. Max’s wound had closed and was now just a dark pink line on his arm. “It wasn’t that bad. Good as new. No stitches needed.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. So what did you bring back?”

“It was nothing really.”

“Something for the Jones investigation?”

“No. I was looking up wedding vows.”

Pierce smiled. “So you’re going through with it.”

“Yes, as scary as that sounds.”

“It would scare me,” said Pierce, then he laughed, and Max joined in.

 

~ end

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Personal hygiene, Vampire Hunters and Real Friends…and don’t forget the Marx Brothers

Vlad was supposed to come through with a Vampire Diary post today but I couldn’t find him. I’m sure he forgot to charge his phone or got lost somewhere. So anyway, I’m posting this fine tale (and it is ALL TRUE) from 2013.

Personal hygiene, Vampire Hunters and Real Friends…and don’t forget the Marx Brothers

The other day I picked up my kids, then had to stop by my warehouse to pick up some paperwork. 13 year old Clara was talking with her 16 year old brother Garrett (recently ungrounded) about donors. Clara has just recently started taking live donations. Oh yes, and for those of you who aren’t from our community, and new to this blog – we’re Vampires. Modern Vampires. Forget the nasty black capes, the sleeping in coffins, the ripping out of hearts…we don’t do that. We’re just like you…well, maybe a little older, a little colder and a little more forgiving of those who are “different”.

So Garret was telling his sister “If you get greedy and take in too much blood from a donor all at once you get blood breath”.

Clara squinted up her eyes and nose. “What it smells like copper or something?”

“No”, said Garrett, ” it smells like rotting flesh. It’s gross.”

I had to add in “And if you’re not neat your entire house smells like a stockyard.”

“What’s a stock yard?” asked Clara. Which surprised me, but then again, she has no reason to know about stockyards.

“Mom means a slaughter-house. That’s where cows are killed and butchered,” Garrett told his sister.

“Gross.”

“Not to mention the farts.” Garrett had to mention the farts. What is it about boys and farts?

Clara looked at me in disgust. “Mom. Farts? Really?”

I shrugged and smiled, “Nothing worse than being in your most elegant evening gown, fresh from a kill at some grand party and then rip a big one that the entire party can hear. And if you think it is loud just imagine the smell. Like death warmed over.”

“Rotted flesh on a hot summer day, swarming maggots, skin slipping off of bones” added Garrett.

Clara covered her ears. “Stop it. You two are so disgusting.”

“Just trying to get a point across,” I told her.

“I get it,” said my daughter.

“Good hygiene is a key to survival with Vampires.” I added as we came to the end of the long hallway in the Victorian era building and I took out my key to the last door.

“Juliette.” I heard a voice behind me and turned around. It was Jack, my attorney and very human friend.  “I saw the light and thought I’d drop off this paperwork to you.” He greeted the kids and we had some nice small talk. Jack has been a family friend for years, and his kids go to school with my kids. We’re all good. And as long as he doesn’t figure out we’re Vampires it will remain good.

We’re getting ready to leave, talking about maybe a trip to the snow park or maybe the movies (none of us have seen Lincoln yet) when we hear someone else in the warehouse. My senses perk up. The kids can sense something. I feel protective over Jack all of the sudden and even more protective over my two children.

A the end of the hall are three figures all in black.

“I’m sorry, it’s after business hours. You’re going to have to leave.”

They continued forward. I recognized one of them. “Bryan?” I said. My past won’t stop haunting me. Bryan Gould, still handsome but 30 years older than the 24 year old I knew back then,

“Juliette.”” He said this with a deep breath voice that caught even me off guard.

“The Vampires have brought children with them. We’ve caught them feeding?”  Said a woman dressed in head to toe black like she is trying to chanel Emma Peal from the Avengers.

“Oh for Pete’s sake. What are you doing here and why did you bring your crazy girlfriend?” I asked Bryan in a deadpan voice.

“You know why Juliette.” He said

“No, I don’t. Honestly after all this time you’d think I’d get a hello how are you after all this time and considering our past history.” This blog is rated PG-13 so I won’t go into that.

“You drank my blood,” Bryan said.

“Leave now or I’m calling 911.” Said Jack. My dear friend Jack.

I now recognized the three in black, including my old friend as Vampire Hunters. Pretty piss poor Vampire hunters but often they’re the most dangerous. Yes, I could read their minds and they were dressed in black with knives and crucifixes and I’m sure they’d all eaten garlic etc etc etc. Idiots.

“They’re idiots Jack.” I turned to Bryan.

“You need to go, NOW.” I was pretty pissed off by now.

“Give me the children,” Bryan yelled at me.

“Put one hand on my kids and I will fucking rip your heart out of your chest.” It was on. I wasn’t taking any crap from him.

Needless to say my kids looked shocked and so did Jack.

Bryan raised a gun at me.

“Don’t hurt my mom.” Yelled Garrett showing his fangs.

“You turned them into Vampires.” Screamed the woman in black.

“They were born that way. And you know what? There is NOTHING wrong with who they are or what they are. What the hell is wrong with you people?” I wasn’t yelling but I was cold and clear.

Poor Jack. I wanted to keep him in the dark but I had to protect him and my children. I stood my ground. “Bryan, we had a lot of good times. It was fun. I wanted to keep those memories good for both of us.”

“Too late Juliette.” My former friend still pointed the gun at me.

“Fine, have it your way.” I walked close to him motioning for my kids and Jack to stay back. Jack started to come forward. “Stay where you are Jack. I’ve got this.”

Byan’s friends came closer. I snarled at them, fangs and all. The jumped back. Then I looked at Bryan and pulled his free will right out of his brain. He dropped the gun then sank to the floor. I took a breath then turned on the others. The man started to run and then fell screaming holding his head. I walked up to the woman. She was breathing hard. I put my hands on her shoulders and got close to her face “You can’t mess with a Vampire if you have evil in your heart. Bother me or any of my friends or family again and I will eat your soul.” She tried to push me away and I kept her frozen, unable to move.

Yes, but what about Jack. Poor Jack.

“Jack, I didn’t want to tell you this, but we’re Vampires. All of us.” I told him. I finally told him my secret. Damn, I hate it when I have to do that.

“I thought…there is no such thing as Vampires.” Jack looked at me all shocked and confused (I mean, wouldn’t you be shocked and confused if this happened to you?)

“There are Werewolves too.” Said a deep voice. There at the door was my friend Adam, the Werewolf, and best photographer in Northern California.  “I heard Bryan was on his way over. I tried to stop them. I swear I had no idea what he’d gotten himself messed up with.

“What the Hell happened here?” Said a voice I didn’t know. Behind Adam was a small woman in a really cute tweed coat and flaming red (natural color too) hair. “Oh, Juliette, Clara, Garrett, Jack, I’d like to introduce you to my girlfriend Brandy.”

Poor Jack was totally confused by then. He knew Adam. They’d known each other since high school and both went to UCLA together (Adam in Art, Jack in Political Science and Law) and ended back up in their hometown.

“Adam?” Jack stared at his old  friend in shock.

I walked up to Adam. “Do you think you can talk any sense into Bryan or am I going to have to mess with his mind. I’d rather not, but I’m not taking any chances with my kids or Jack.” I turned to Jack. “Jack, I hate for you to have to deal with this but there is a whole big world out there you know nothing about.”

Jack looked at me, still in shock “You’re telling me there are really Vampires?”

Adam answered him. “Yes and I’m a Werewolf, so is Brandy. But don’t flip out on me friend. We’re cool. We don’t hurt people. In fact we help more people than we ever hurt in the past. We’ve got a bad rap.”

“You said you’d rip his heart out?” Jack motioned to the Vampire Hunters on the ground.

I answered him gently. “If he’d touched any of you I would have, but it was mostly a bluff. You know the mother wolf in me, no offense Adam.”

“None taken.” Said the Werewolf.

“Mom”, said Clara “What are you going to do with these people?”

I really didn’t want to tell her what I should do with them. In the old days I wouldn’t have thought twice of draining every drop of blood in their bodies and ripping their hearts out but I just don’t like doing that sort of thing anymore. I never liked it. But then again, I never had children before either. I didn’t want these goons or their leaders to come after them again.

Then I noticed she had been crying. That was it. Nobody makes my child cry.

Garrett spoke up. “It’s like that movie Shallow Grave.”

“When did you see that?” I asked surprised even for a Vampire mom. He wasn’t supposed to see that one yet.

“With Dad.” Said my son.

What goes on when I’m not home I’ll never know.

Jack seemed to be in shock. I’d have to calm him down. Adam and Brandy looked at the Vampire hunters in disgust. They could have well be Werewolf hunters. The door opened again. Who was it this time? I hoped not the police.

There were the elder Vampires Tellias and Eleora . He was dressed in a long black coat, an old fashioned tuxedo shirt and red pants. His pale blonde hair was tied back in a black ribbon. She wore a red mini skirt, high black rubber rain boots and a red coat with huge shoulder pads with a large white fake fur collar. Her red lipstick had sort of a weird uneven outline like one of the girls from Terry and the Pirates. Both had goggles around their necks and snorkels. They were both wearing straw hats, the kind people wear out gardening.

They came in and fussed about in their usual manner, showering my children and I with hugs and kisses. They were so lovely and frail, almost more like Fairies than Vampires.

“What are the goggles for?” I asked.

“We were going to go swimming in the river,” said Tellias.

“That’s nuts” said Jack “you’ll drown. The currents are too strong and the water is too cold this time of year.”

“We won’t die,” said Tellias in almost a whisper.

“We’re undead.” Elora told Jack in a whisper and tone that matched Tellias.

“So Vampires are dead”, Jack asked looking straight at me.

“No, we’re very much alive, meaning we’re undead,” I answered in all truth.

“You’re soulless gouls,” Jack gasped.

“We have souls only unlike you our souls belong to us and us alone.” I tried to get him to understand.

“So my soul isn’t mine?” Jack asked now clearly confused beyond return.

I took a deep breath. “Jack, your soul is yours and you can do what you want with it including selling it. Vampires can’t sell their souls, not to anyone. Needless to say unlike humans we’re impervious to the forces of evil. Of course we can be tempted and we do bad things, but we can’t sell our souls to control fate or whatever.  In turn angels and the like ignore us but it is what it is. They’re the ones missing out if they don’t get to know us.”

The oddly dressed elder Vampires studied over the prone figures in black.

“They’re bad people.” Eleora said as she stepped around them making a circle.

“Bad indeed,” said Tellias.

“Indeed,” said Eleora.

“Who are they? They can’t be over 21.” Jack gasped looking from them to me.

“They’re elders. They’re over 2000 years old.” I answered.

“We were born in BC.” Tellias said stepping towards Jack.

Eleora took Jack’s hand. “Not Canada, Before Christ. A long long time ago.”

Tellias ecoed, “a really long time ago.”

“We just look young,” said Eleora.

“We’ve been around a long long time,” said Tellias.

Jack pulled his hand from Eleora. “How old are you? Juliette?”

“Jack,  you don’t need to know.” He really didn’t.

“Juliette, tell me. Please.” He was begging now, well almost.

I took a deep breath. “I’m 153. Teddy is 163. We’re young as Vampires go.”

“We’re going swimming,” said Eleora.

“And we’re good swimmers and we can see under water” said Tellias.

“We’re very good swimmers,” sad Eleora.

“Yes, very good,” said Tellias.

“Do you have your suits with you?” Garrett asked this question.

“We’re going to go naked,” said Eleora.

“Completely naked,” chimed in Tellias.

I do love my old Vampires. They’re sort of odd, well, sort of is an understatement, but I love them.

 

“So what are we going to do with these three?” Asked Adam.

“We’ll deal with them Werewolf. Don’t worry about a thing. We’ll wipe their memories clean and send them on their merry way,” Tellias said with a lovely white Vampire smile.

“We’ll deal with them.” Eleora said as she kissed Adam on the cheek. Adam smiled then looked slightly uncomfortable at being approached by a Vampire so ancient.

Bryan groaned. Brandy nudged him with her foot. “Shut up or I’ll rip your throat out,” she growled at him.

I wanted to tell her “Good Dog” but stopped myself.

Then the door opened again. In walked a couple dressed in skinny jeans and stylish jackets and of course scarves. One must have  a scarf these days.

The Elders danced over to them and embraced and introduced their friends. Poor Jack was ready to pass out at this point with all the weirdness.

The elders introduced their friends. LeRoy and Jasmine were young and hip.

“We saw your car and thought we’d drop in,” said Jasmine.

“Are you Vampires too?” asked Jack.

“We’re vegans. But we’re cool if you’re a vampire. If you’re born a predator it’s your nature. That’s just the way you are and we accept that. I mean, like, my cat eats meat,” LeRoy answered.

This was starting to remind me of that scene in Night at The Opera (Marx Brothers) when about 100 people crowded into a closet size state room, then someone opened the door. You know what happened. If you don’t see the clip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZvugebaT6Q

The Elder Vampires, LeRoy and Jasmine removed the bad people in black. Adam and I made a list of 100 people we needed to track down and find out what happened (or it seemed like 100). He and Brandy also helped me explain to my kids just what happened. We’d talk more on the way home and I’m sure for the coming weeks. Of course I know my children won’t talk about this except maybe to their Vampire friends. Everyone who needs to be informed will be.

Then there was Jack. He was shocked to know that his wife had known we were Vampires for years. She thought it was exciting. Jack still needed convincing. But I let him know that he was always safe and protected as long as he was my friend, which would be for always. That is how Vampires are. Once a friend, always a friend.

So the moral of this story is that you just have to roll with things but first and foremost:

  • Protect your children at all costs.
  • Surround yourself with friends you trust.
  • Keep those friendships strong.
  • Keep your elders in your life.
  • Don’t judge your friends by their eating habits.
  • Don’t put up with jerks.
  • Always bring a towel along if you’re going swimming (well, ok, according to Hitchhikers Guide always have a towel.)
  • And if you haven’t seen them already, make sure you see “A Night At The Opera” and “Duck Soup”. Marx Brothers. Don’t worry, they aren’t communists.

That’s it for now.

Have a great weekend.

~  Juliette aka Vampire Maman

False Starts and Finding Love – Things that we’ll never be able to explain.

False Starts, Lost Dreams, Finding Love and an Ancient Tabby

As a child Bronagh would get up each morning and go to school. There she’d figure out ways to escape through day dreams and long lone walks around the school ball field. In her more lucid and social moments she’d be trying to ignore the nonstop bullying from the group of smirking thugs who ruled the school. Having a different name in a universe full of Debbies and Nancys and Susans made one stand out. It made one get picked on along with being small, plain and quiet. Her family was also considered weird.

Her father was a large loud Irishman with a thick accent and her mother was a small pale elf like German woman who’d lost her family in a tragic accident, then ended up in a group home for unclaimed children. The Irishman and the German girl met in a bar, got married, moved to America and had too many children and didn’t do things like other families. They’d sit up all night and play cards and smoke and drink too much. Then they’d tell stories of ghosts and werewolves and violent relatives who didn’t come to America. They’d sing loud songs and walk around their backyard in their underwear. Sometimes the intensity of the couple frightened the other families of their normal middle class community.

Bronagh was never mistreated at home but she never felt too connected to her family either. She loved them but she didn’t want to live with them or be like them.

She struggled in school but in her secret world she was smart and would one day be beautiful and successful. Nightmare sessions in front of the class unable to do a math problem while other children jeered made her imagine a different life. At that point she started to keep secrets.

Nobody ever knew what she was feeling or thinking. She gave away nothing by her expression or words. She lived in two worlds – one on the outside and her own world inside.

She grew up, went on to high school, made friends, grew into a beautiful young woman, made straight A’s and never looked back.

Then she went to college and found herself on too many long walks alone, but that was OK. She was used to that. Friends came and went. There were always good times to be had but she never stayed close to anyone. She graduated and had plans but her life seemed to be one big black hole that sucked the life out of every idea, every relationship and every job prospect. All of her choices sucked. It was as if everything she touched turned to garbage. It was garbage that couldn’t even be recycled. It was toxic waste.

Time passed and roadblocks grew higher and doors slammed in her face. She found herself with a college degree, a shelf full of books, a stray one-eyed tabby cat she named Toulouse, and nothing else.

One day she decided that one of two things needed to happen. She either needed to die or fall in love. Nobody would ever love her she decided, so she set a date to end it all, that is if nothing happened.

She grew numb.

One day she forced herself to go the large university library to research jobs and graduate schools.

On the first floor she ran into an old party friend Cindy. Beautiful lucky Cindy was going off to her dream job in Los Angeles. A huge engagement ring sat on Cindy’s finger. Cindy’s clothes were beautiful and obviously expensive. Joy radiated out of her, not for material reasons but because she was just where she wanted to be. Then again Cindy had been born where every girl wanted to be.  Cindy was that kind of girl. Bronagh gave Cindy a hug and wished her the best.

Then she saw a guy she’d had a one night stand with talking to a biology professor she’d had. Ditching them she went up the stairwell to the second floor to take refuge with some art books.

On the second floor, as she left the art section, she ran into a man she’d been in love with. He was glad to see her. He was glad to tell her that he was getting married – to somebody else.  He asked her if she still had the cat. She thought he thought she was an idiot. She lied and said she had a boyfriend and great job prospects. Someone she really liked had dumped her the week before. She’d been fired from a job she’d held for a week. It didn’t matter. He’d cheated on her anyway. Being young and miserable with no prospects is no fun even when you don’t feel bad about telling lies.

Feeling numb she looked at college catalogs, made notes about graduate school requirements then go up to walk and distract herself. It was time to look up poisons or just sit down and die and turn into a mummy that someone would find in 50 years or so behind a stack of books nobody ever read.

In the deep darkness of the ancient basement stacks she accidentally tripped and fell into the arms of a man. It wasn’t that kind of fall into your arms. It was more of the kind of “I noticed you were looking up poisons,” kind of falling to his arms. He noticed in a big way. Poisons were not the kind of things pretty girls, or anyone not doing medical research or writing crime novels usually looked up. She said she was writing a story. He knew she was telling a lie but he let it pass. He told her he was doing research for a class he was teaching in creative writing. That wasn’t a lie. Well, not a complete lie.

She had iced herbal tea with him in an earthy crunchy little coffee shop and they talked about all sorts of things. His name was Valentine, yes, that Val, my brother. His friend Alonzo joined them.

That was 36 years ago. She still remembered the purple skirt and white lace top she was wearing. On her feet were gray flats. Val was wearing jeans and a black tee. Alonzo wore a red vest and a white button down shirt. His dark hair curled around his ears. It was weird how she remembered the details. She clicked with Val and Alonzo. They didn’t judge her. But they were not like the predators she’d met who wanted to lure her into schemes and religions and cults and plans that she didn’t want to be part of.

They became friends and she became one of them – one of us. A Vampire.

I know it sounds weird but she tells such a glum story. Bronagh is the funniest Vampire I’ve ever met. Yes, we have a sense of humor. You can’t live as long as we do and not.

Bronagh thinks about things too much – old things, things that happened, the guy in the library, the guy who dumped her, people who had been to her, a friend who died when they were young. But then not really, not lately. She used to sometimes wonder what life might have been like had she not become a Vampire.

Becoming a Vampire wasn’t what solved her problems. Having some support and encouragement and sheer tenacity is what got her out of her gloom. Long story. Hard work. Creative thinking. Love. Humor. She shrugs it off.

She’ll laugh and talk about how handsome Alonzo is,  but she’ll be quick to tell everyone that she married him for his sense of humor. She’ll tell you about how he proposed to her while they walked under the stars on a windy beach. She won’t tell you about the times she was so unhappy and lost before that day in the library. Those dark times were such a small portion of everything but still, it makes a mark.

Alonzo had a past so full of nightmares that he was glad to become a Vampire and live in a world of calm control and find some measure of peace. I’m just glad to have them in my life. Maybe I’ll talk Alonzo into telling me a few stories.

Valentine’s Day is almost here and all kinds of ghosts of relationships past are coming out of the woodwork. Let’s just keep most of them tucked away. We don’t need to deal with them or let them bother us.

Alonzo just shrugs and laughs off anything from his past. Bronagh does the same for the most part. They’re just like any other couple, only they’re Vampires. They believe that what they is due to divine intervention and it happened for a reason. Maybe. Maybe not. I’d like to think it was meant to be. OK it was meant to be.

And the odd thing about this story is that the old one-eyed tabby cat Toulouse is still alive at 43 years old. Of course, cats aren’t supposed to live that long but sometimes, well, all Vampires know that there are things we’ll never be able to explain.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Off To See The Wizard

Off To See The Wizard

Druce had just pulled his toasted seed and dried berry bread out of the oven when his friend Morcant came through the door carrying a basket.

“What do you got in there?”

“Smoked salmon, a bottle of squid ink, and dried salted kelp chips.”

“Nice.”

“I see you’ve made your famous berry bread. That will win over the hearts of the coldest stone.”

“We can only hope. I’m paring it with a jar of honeycomb, and a jug of my best mead.”

Druce wrapped up the bread and took a look at his friend. Morcant wore a soft seal skin over his shoulders. His tunic was sleeveless showing off his muscular arms. Today Morcant’s black hair was worn down around his shoulders framing his handsome face. Druce never wondered why all of the women in their village and the surrounding area sought Morcant out even if it was just to look.

The seal skin was that of Morcant’s sister who’d died in the past summer season. She and Morcant were Selkies. On land they were human, and in the sea they were seals. They guarded their seal skins with their lives, for if anyone stole their skin they would be trapped as humans, and in bondage forever.

Morcant’s brother-in-law never took his wife’s skin, but celebrated the fact that as a Selkie she had come to him of her own free will. Her love was free, and her husband was devoted to her. They had that rare true love that so many seek but never find.

One day while they were out fishing, his sister still in her human form, they were overcome by a great shark and dragged to the bottom of the sea as dinner. Morcant, as customary for Selkies now wore his sister’s skin to stay close to her spirit and to have her love with him always.

Druce looked into his mirror and brushed his sun streaked brownish blonde waves with his fingers. He was smaller than Morcant, and not quite as handsome, but the ladies still liked him too. And of course he liked them more than they could imagine.

“So, Druce,” said Morcant, “when exactly did this Wizard guy come into town?”

“Last week, under the darkness of the night.”

“What’s he like?”

“Personally? I don’t know. I hear he was sleeping with his sister. Nymue told me that. She also said he used to stalk her, asking her about her magic and getting all sappy and trying to sound mystical about it. One day she showed him a sword she was going to give to the next king and he said I’ll show you my magic sword. She kicked him out and told him she’d put a bad enchantment on him if he ever hit on her again. And I mean bad, you know, guy bad, like his sword won’t work for a year or two. Like a blade of grass.”

“Sounds like a creeper.”

“A real mess if you ask me. Anyway, that was a while back so maybe he’s changed. Gotta give a guy some doubt that he has grown up since his misplaced youth chasing ladies in lakes and all of that shit.”

“OK so I don’t get it Druce. You’re the Worlock around here. What’s the difference between you and some Wizard dude, except that you’re better looking and are better with women.”

Druce laughed. “As a Warlock, I can, how can I put this so it won’t sound weird. As you know I can harness and control spirits, demons, and other’s who aren’t human. I can’t make them work for me. I also control their evil so that they can’t harm people. I take their energy and do good with it. I can also do other magic and tricks through my own will. I deal with both sides of the world, that of the dead and that of the living. That of the physical and that of the spirits.”

“And what about Wizards?”

“Wizards learn their craft. They are gifted in the ways of magic, but their magic comes mostly from the use of potions, and the channeling of their magic through a staff, or wand. They can scare spirits and demons but they can’t control them. And Wizards are giving Warlocks a bad rap. I hear that in other parts my kind are being hunted down and burned to death. They think we’re minions of Satan.”

“That’s bull shit. Then why the fuck are we going to greet this guy and bring him gifts. He sounds like a freak to me.”

“Because he is working for the King.”

“The Kings is an idiot. He is obsessed with some old cup, and everyone knows his wife is sleeping with his best friend.”

“Hey, I didn’t put him into office. Blame that on Nyume. The Lady of The Lake should have minded her own business and …”

There was a scream and in through the door came a whirl of gray, which stopped and materialized into a woman. She smiled showing lovely white teeth, but her eyes were black and crazy. No harm. Just their friend Milen, who was also a Banshee.

“Milen,” said Druce, as he blew her a kiss. “Thanks for coming. I have fresh venison stew in the pot there over the fire. I put the eyes in there for you.”

She grinned and put a long fingered hand into the boiling stew and plucked out an eye, the popped it into her mouth.

“Hey, Milen, we should be gone just a few hours,” said Druce. “I’m so glad you could watch the baby for me.”

“Ohhhhhh of course,” she said as she went over to a baby unicorn who was curled up asleep in its tiny bed made of soft sea grasses and dried fragrant flowers.

“Alright then, we’ve better get going, if we’re going to go,” said Druce, and they packed up their gifts and went to meet their new neighbor.

The new Wizard had chosen and old Roman camp on a hill as his new home. The buildings were already there and in fairly good shape. It was also about a five day journey from there to where the King lived. Or at least the king the Wizard worked for.

The two friends arrived at the home of the Wizard and were greeted by a tall man with a brown beard flecked with gray. His eyes shone blue like spring wildflowers, flecked with gold.

The Wizard welcomed them in and introduced himself as Merlin, the Wizard. There was something sort of sad about him, like someone who had a lot of friends, but nobody he was really close to. Druce wondered if Merlin could pick up on emotions and sadness like a Warlock could. Or like a woman could.

Merlin thanked them for the gifts and asked them to come sit. He led them to a room where the walls were covered with tapestries and the chairs with lush textiles and furs.

“The seal skin you wear is beautiful. The finest I’ve ever seen,” said Merlin to Morcant.

“This is my sister’s skin. She passed six moons back. I wear this skin in her honor.”

There was a pause in the conversation and a bit of weirdness.”

“Morcant is a Selkie,” said Druce.

Merlin looked surprised. He was surprised. He’d never met a Selkie before. It seemd, as they talked, that there were a lot of things Merlin had never done.

Still they visited and had polite small talk. Druce and Morcant of the village and the surrounding peoples, and those who were not people. There was also a lot they didn’t tell him. When the sun began to set Druce and Morcant bid their host goodbye.

They started the walk home in silence but then Morcant spoke.

“Merlin was nice. Not much of a bro, if you know what I mean, but nice. But dude, he has more demons than you’ll ever have.”

Druce gave a sad smile, “At least I can control my demons. Fuck, they aren’t even my demons. Merlin needs more sunshine, and he needs to divorce himself from his dysfunctional family and friends. I always tell everyone that it isn’t demons that are bugging them, it is their toxic friends and family members that are getting them down. He needs to let go.”

“True,” said Morcant. “Are you going to tell him about the unicorn?”

“Hell no,” said Druce. “I’m not telling him where the dragons are either.”

As they passed a cottage on the edge of a field of grain a woman stepped out and greeted them. “Morcant, will you stay the night with me? I could use your love, and I’ll have plenty to give back.”

“Go,” said Druce. He knew Morcant had been seeing the Widow Cath for few months. Her elderly husband had died leaving her a large farm to manage, a task she did better than most men. Morcant had always been fond of her, but now it was becoming a bit more than fond.

At home Druce found the Banshee Milen sleeping with the tiny unicorn baby in her lap. She’d taken on a physical form, that of a woman of a certain age who had a well earned beauty earned from a life well lived, at least before she had been betrayed and murdered by her husband. He put a blanket woven of the softest flax over them.

He poured a glass of beer and pulled a stool outside in his garden, out under the stars. He could hear the waves of the ocean. Maybe later he’d go down to the beach and see what spirits were among the sea shells and boats tonight.

But now he sat and thought of the sad Wizard. Then he thought of the women he knew and how it would be nice to have one of them in his bed that night, skin against skin, and a special kind of magic that came when two people came together in desire of both the body and the soul.

Then he thought about how dragons had become so endangered due to the trade of dragon bones by Wizards for their wealthy clients. Everyone with half a brain knew that dragon bones powder did nothing to make one’s manhood larger.

Then he thought of women again.

Milen the Banshee came out with a stool and sat next to him. He told her about his visit to Merlin. She said it was sad when one was so full of power and so lost. Then she said she was glad her husband had been hanged after she’d died. She always mentioned that. Druce didn’t blame her. She hadn’t planned on being a Banshee.

Then she put her hand on Druce’s. “Darlin, I’ll be in human for for another hour or two. Let’s go inside and take advantage of that.”

And like any good Warlock who knew what was good for him Druce kissed her and took her inside.

~ End

 

First published January 2018
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Tangled Tales

 

Dia de Muertos Overload (and ghosts with banjos in my kitchen)

I swear sometimes it feels like…

Halloween is just around the corner. Day of the Dead. Día de Muertos.

Sometimes the dead get too excited about the Day of the Dead. Sometimes the dead can’t wait.

As a Vampire I can see ghosts. I can see them almost all of the time. They’re everywhere, but they generally respect the space of others – especially those who are on the edge of the shadows.

But not this October.

I’ve got things crawling up my walls. Small hominoid weirdness in the form of shadows crawl up the walls and around the ceilings of my breakfast nook. I have no idea who they were or where they came from.

Then there are the 49ers, not football players but the ghosts of old gold miners camped out in my living room playing guitars and things that look like banjos. My house is built right next to a major gold mining area. People who mined gold tended to die young and away from home. Their ghosts linger around looking for comfort. I just wish they’d find comfort somewhere else.

For anyone else, anyone who can’t see ghosts it isn’t a problem. OK it usually isn’t a problem but I want my space back.

I’ve tried to shoo the gold miners away. They just look at me with sad faces and fade away for an hour or two, then I hear the music again. The music is horrible too. They’re going to make my ears explode.

As for the nasty little crawlers, They disgusted and frustrated me beyond just about everything I have ever known.

For the past week I’ve been seeing every ghost except my ghost. That would be Nigel the Ghost. And I can’t forget his charming girlfriend Mary. Nigel isn’t always that charming. In fact he’s a major asshole most of the time, but he is my asshole ghost.

Nigel didn’t come with the house. Neither did Mary but they’re here. We don’t know why, but look up the old blog posts about them.

Anyway, I’ve got a woman with her head in her hands walking up and down my stairs. I’ve got some musicians from the 1920’s hanging out in the kitchen. More just come and go. It’s a mess.

I was at my wit’s end but I had things to do, places to go, people to meet.

When I came home from a couple of meetings I had today the ghoulish gold miners were still playing their mournful songs.

“You guys are worse than leaf blowers,” I yelled at the. “You need to go away NOW.” I showed them my fangs, like that would do any good.

A small dark shadow sat in my kitchen window watching me with dark mournful eyes. I wondered if ghosts could get pink eye because this guy sure did have it.

The woman on the stairs had put her head back on, and she was now sitting on my stairs alongside another woman who had a huge knife sticking out of her chest. Their large skirts covered about half of the stairwell. I walked right through them on the way up to my bedroom. I thought about changing clothes but I had no idea who would suddenly appear.

This is ridiculous I thought. And it was. I mean, who likes a house full of ghosts? Nobody.

Then just about the time I almost felt like screaming in frustration I smelled a hint of red wine, gardenia, and oil paint. Turning around I saw Nigel, The Ghost.

“They’re all gone,” he said, as he rolled up the sleeves of his white shirt. Then he shook his head and let his shaggy black hair fall into place around his pretty but very male face.

“Thank you,” I said.

“Anything for my favorite vampire,” he said with a slight smile. “They think you’re safe, the ghosts do. They think you’ll like them and blog about them. Like all ghosts they’re just a little confused and posts. They just don’t want to be forgotten.”

“That isn’t my problem,” I said.

“Obviously it IS your problem. But I took care of it Juliette. You owe me.”

“Yes, I do,” I said. I also regretted saying that as soon as the words left my mouth.

Nigel came close and I could feel him put his cold ghostly hands on my cold vampire shoulders. He put his face close to mine and whispered in my ear, “Even the most tormented souls long for a champion. Even those who live in the land of nowhere, in the perpetual hell of a tortured soul, and a fractured reality need love and a sense of safety. That is why they seek you out. Don’t be a bitch Juliette.”

Then he kissed my cheek with lips so warm it surprised me, then he stepped back and vanished with a wisp of blue smoke and the scent of pumpkin spice.

I stood for a minute, my mind full of ghosts, and my meetings, my family coming home in a few hours, and everything I needed to do in the next few hours. But I thought before I left home again that I’d share this.

October is here. As usual my brain is full.

And Nigel, if you’re reading this… don’t get too full of yourself.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman