My nephew Logan, my brother Aaron’s eldest child, just moved into town. Logan is a mere 28, a baby by Vampire standards. I’ve been making up for lost time and taking him everywhere with me. Yesterday we visited the elders Eleora and Tellias.
As I drove into the drive up road the Victorian house Logan spotted someone by the dock. Garbage was strewn around by the boat house.
My ninety pound German Shepard Alice, the goofy vacuum fearing dog in the back seat, started to growl and bark. She was in full professional mode now with her fur up and teeth out. I was already to go into full Vampire mode with my fangs out as well.
I got out of the car, Alice jumped over the seat, fur up and teeth on full display. I held her collar as she began to bark. Logan exited the passenger side and stood next to me.
Hollow eyes from faces that looked years older than their real age looked at us in fear. Large German Shepard Dogs in attack mode tend to bring out the fear in just about anything.
Human kind are barraged by temptations from the day they are born. Unfortunately some seek their solace and escape in the most heinous of temptations and fall into the trap of soul sucking drug addictions.
It had been a few years since anyone had tried to camp on this property. You know, I usually don’t deal wth this kind of thing. I don’t deal with a lot of shit. I just move on and mind my own business, but they were too close and doing too much damage. Tellias couldn’t risk losing his certified organic status on this orchard, or whatever else damage was done to the ecosystem of the river.
“Get off this property. You have one day and you will be removed by force,” said Logan.
“You can’t make us.”
“Too bad,” I said. “It would be a shame to find you in shallow graves by the edge of the river.” I was bluffing. I wasn’t about to go out into the mud and dig graves, much less drag bodies around or clean up their dirty camp.
“Let’s get his over with Logan,” I said to my nephew as I let the dog go. Alice barked and growled at close range. Logan and I bared our fangs and darkened our eyes. Cheap parlor tricks as far as I was concerned but it did the trick.
The tweekers look upon us with fear. Of course they did. They crouched down trying to fend off the dog who continued to growl and bark at them.
“Look at me,” I said. “How old are you? In your twenties? You look fucking dead. Get to a shelter. Get into a program. Start living like humans.”
Their eyes locked on mine. I had them. I reached into what they had left of their souls and tried to find a rare shred of a good memory or hope for anything other than the next fix.
“You have an hour. Go to the shelter and ask for Larry. Before you go ALL of this garbage needs to be picked up. Do you understand?”
They shook their heads in agreement. Nobody told me that I couldn’t make them do it. Nobody said a word. I snarled at them with my fangs and called the dog back. “If you come back here I will fucking hunt you down and kill you. I expect to hear from Larry. If I don’t then you’d better be at least five hundred miles from here by this time tomorrow.”
“See Larry,” Logan said in a voice straight out of Hell. I knew they’d go see Larry.
We got in the car and continued up to the house. I told Logan to call Larry and tell him what was going on. It is always heart breaking, even if I’ve seen it for a hundred years, to find people in such hopeless conditions.
As we drove up the drive to the house we could see a man in a red flannel shirt and green and black striped pants up on a ladder.
Tellias, who looked nineteen but was older than the first Christmas, was hanging Christmas lights on the front of the house.
He pushed a strand of white blonde hair out of his eyes and climbed down off of the ladder. Eleora ran from the house, wearing a red circle skirt and a green sweater, and wrapped her thin arms around us. They both started to sing an old song about St. Nicholas and covered our faces with light kisses.
Eleora, who also looks nineteen or twenty, is older of Christmas as well, and like Tellias, Logan, and me, is a Vampire. Being a Vampire doesn’t exclude us from any holidays, especially Halloween and Christmas.
Logan noticed a motor home parked by the guest house. “Who is here?”
“They broke down,” said Eleora.
“Yes, they broke down on their way from Seattle to Los Angeles. They’re moving,” said Tellias.
“They broke down taking the scenic route along the river,” said Eleora
“A young family. It will take a few days together the part they need,” said Tellias.
“A few days,” said Eleora.
Yes, Eleora and Tellias look young but sometimes they sound extremely old. That’s OK.
“That was kind of you,” I said. “Are you sure this is a good idea?”
“They’re harmless. They needed our help. The children are darling,” said Tellias.
“Precious,” said Eleora.
“Do they know you’re Vampires. Just asking,” said Logan.
Tellias smiled. “Not yet.”
“We saw some homeless camps coming in,” Logan told them.
“I’ll call Larry,” said Tellias.
“Larry knows what to do,” said Eleora.
Eleora led Logan off to the back of the house to show him the Christmas decorations she was making. Tellias poured a couple of goblets of blood mixed with wine and led me to the front parlor.
“I’m glad you brought Logan. It has been almost a year since I’ve seen him. Sit while he spends time with Eleora. I have a story to tell you. We sat and I let him talk.
“You know I never knew who my parents were. I was raised in Rome, what you now call Ancient Rome, by people who were not like us. I grew up in a temple, then was sent to live with powerful people who kept me as both a pet and a demigod. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I came to England with the Roman army and met Eleora.
Years passed, the Roman Empire fell, and Eleora and I were still together. We were in what people now call the Dark Ages, that weird time between the Roman times and the Middle Ages. We didn’t hear much from the outside world back then. Most people didn’t even know there was much outside of their own villages. However, one day Eleora received a letter, a rare thing in a time when most people were illiterate, saying that they’d heard rumors of where my parents were. There was no signature on the letter, and the person who delivered it said it came from a dark haired stranger dressed in black. We had no idea who that could have been. Sometimes it seems like I’ve never known who anyone has been.
With the letter came a map of places east of where we lived, and north of Rome. It was in the northern lands of Vikings, and the rumored Vampires of the eastern regions of what is now Europe. So, to make a long story slightly less long, Eleora said we had to go.
So we went, alone, just the two of us on our horses, following the map. I asked her if she thought we should go, and leave the only home she’d ever known.
Three weeks into the journey we’d arrived on the continent. I wondered if this journey had been a trap. It wasn’t as if I’d never traveled before. I’d traveled from Rome to Britain, to Greece, and then up to where the Gauls lived and back to Rome, then back to Britain. We only had our feet or our horses for transportation. Now Eleora and I found ourselves in a land that was considered The Holy Roman Empire, but there was nothing holy, Roman, or empire like about it.
Eleora and I never tired of each other’s company so the trip wasn’t that bad. Then she became ill. I didn’t know. I did not know. I did not know that she was pregnant. I didn’t realize she was losing the child until it was lost.
You know how rare children can be among us. I didn’t know we could have children because we’d been together over three centuries by this time.
That didn’t matter. She was losing blood and there wasn’t any blood to be had. We were in the middle of a great forest on a desolate road in the Darkest of the Dark Ages. I had to find human blood.
In the distance I could hear horses. As far as I knew they could be farmers, bandits, crusaders, or just travelers like us. I took out my knife and was ready to use my fangs.
Two figures, which I assumed were men, came along in horses. Both wore the robes of the clergy, like monks. I spoke to them in Latin, assuming that was a language they would understand. Mass was said in Latin so they had to know it at least a bit.
“Hello,” I said, ready for both an attack or a friendly greeting.
“Good day my friends. You look weary from the road,” said one of the men as he took off his hood. He had a pleasant face with bright gold brown eyes and a short white beard. He had a slight accent.
“You sound Greek,” I said.
“You sound Roman. What brings you here?”
“I am Nicholas of Myra. We are seeking passage north to continue our good works.”
“If that is the case you’ve been dead for centuries.”
“But I am not dead now am I?”
“Your bones are said to be in the city of Myra, or as we speak being carried back in bits to Jerusalem by Crusaders.” You see, back then bones of people thought to be saints were often parted out because people believed those bones had magical powers. It is akin to the illegal wildlife trades going on today. Of course people dug up bodies and sold the bones as those of saints. No surprises there.
Nicholas laughed a laugh of a man without a care in the world. It was rich and deep and, well, jolly. “So who is dead now my undead Roman friend?”
I was in such a panic over Eleora, and surprised he knew we were Vampires that I didn’t have a comeback. I stepped back to my horse.
“You know my name.”
“I know when you are asleep. I know when you are awake.”
The figure behind him stepped forward and threw off his hood. A pointed face made of all sharp angles cooked out in a raspy voice like gravel and strong booze, “Oh come on Rome boy you can’t be that stupid.”
I looked at the gravel voiced man then looked down at his feet. He had hooves. He noticed that I’d noticed.
“I’m no Demon, and even if you look like an angel we know you and your woman are blood sucking…”
“Krampus, quiet,” said the man called Nicholas. “Tellias, your woman lost her child. Let me go to her. I’ll give her what she needs.” He rolled up his sleeve and showed me his arm.
I didn’t know if I should run or take up his offer. My head spun. All the hopes of a child was lost. I wanted to rip his throat out. I wanted to hug him. I wanted to run. He then put his arm around my shoulder and led me to where I’d made a shelter for Eleora.
He gave her blood. He gave her life.
Tellias stopped talking and closed his eyes. I took his hand. “Tellias I am so sorry. I had no idea. I had no idea you lost a baby.”
“I didn’t want to make you sad,” he said as he gave my hand a squeeze.
I gave him a hug. He wiped a tear from my eye. “It was a long long time ago. I love you.”
Tellias continued his story.
Nicholas and Krampus led us to a house in a small village where they were staying for the week. They made a warm soft bed for Eleora. As we sat around the fire we learned each other’s stories.
Nicholas had been born in Greece to a wealthy family. Early in life he’d given money to three sisters to prevent them from being sold into prostitution. The money was supposed to be for dowries. He told them to either marry for love or go to Mother Hope’s convent rather than marry a men they did not love. Love would carry them through most of life’s troubles. In the convent Mother Hope would treat them with respect and make sure they had an education. Two married. One went with Mother Hope and in turn became a great leader among holy women and spent her life helping other women escape from the horrors of prostitution and loveless marriages. From then on he decided to dedicate his life to helping others.
“How did you and Krampus hook up?” I asked Nicholas.
They both laughed. Krampus spoke. “Old Nick here doesn’t like to deal with bad things or bad people. Fortunately I do. You see, when I was a kid life wasn’t too good for me. So now I get back at all of the bad kids who hurt others. I can’t get all of the bullies but I can get to enough of them. If they use sticks, stones, or words to hurt then into my big bag they go. When I’m done with them they’re spineless as worms and completely harmless. But it’s a lot of work so I made a deal with Nick here to only help him out once a year. In exchange he keeps the fucking angels off my ass the rest of the year.”
That night I held Eleora as we wiped away the silent tears of grief from each other’s faces.
The next morning Nicholas looked at my map. “This map doesn’t lead anywhere. It takes you to the path of Crusaders who will be lost to slavers. You’ve lived many years as a virtual slave my friend. You do not want to do that again. Go home.”
“What about my parents?”
“You won’t find them there.”
“Will I ever find them?”
“I can’t answer that. If I see them along the way I’ll tell them that you’re looking for them.”
“Where are you going?”
“North. We’re going to raise reindeer. I hear there is a big abondoned castle up for grabs and a bunch of elves who need protection.”
“Dwarves, Nick. They’re fucking Dwarves,” said Krampus.
“Elves. The Dwarves live south of where we’re going.”
“Let us come with you,” said Eleora.
Nicholas took her pretty face in his hands and kissed her cheeks. “No my cold precious friend. You have another road to take. It is a road where you will meet people who need you. You will meet people of your own kind. But don’t shed any tears. Our paths will cross again.”
I looked at Nicholas who had been alive far longer than the life span of men. He’d been living over four hundred years.
“Why are you still alive?” I asked him.
He said, “I am a Spirit. I am the spirit of giving”
“How’s that working out for you?” I asked.
“I haven’t always been able to do the job as well as I want but I keep trying,” said Nicholas.
“A long time ago, under a bright star, I was at the birth of a child. Not my child, but the child who grew into the man who’s words you follow. You should make his birthday your night of giving.” Juliette, I have no idea why I even suggested that. It just seemed like a good idea at the time.
Then Eleora made a suggestion you’ll recognize even now. “You can decorate trees like the local folk do when the first snows start. Mix the old traditions with new. I like the sound of that. A new tradition. If you make people smile they too will think of giving to others. It will remind them that even as winter comes there will always be love.”
Nicholas smiled. “I will do it in honor of your lost child as well, and all of those who feel loss or without hope.” He looked me in the eye knowing my feelings about everything in my heart.
Krampus just snorted. “Of course you’d pick the coldest day of the year. You’re Vampires. Holy crap. I can’t win.”
Eleora and I stayed on for a few more days then headed beck to England. As Vampires we are well suited for a life on the road, but as you know, most of us prefer the comforts and familiarity of home.
We are said to be creatures of the night, which I will accept as a compliment when I look at the night sky full of shining stars, and hear the call of the owl. I know that it is in the night that Nicholas does many of his good deeds, unseen, without credit.
Logan and Eleora came back into the room and joined us with garlands made from pine boughs and red ribbons around their necks. It was good to see them smiling, fangs out, and without a care. Eleora had talked Logan into singing a loud rendition of Deck the Halls with her. My dog, who had been sleeping at my feet jumped up to bark and jump along to the festivities.
There are times when I am in awe of Tellias and his tales of history and wonder. Maybe not so much wonder, as his stories, to him at least, are just his life. They are his experiences to share.
Later that day someone came out to fix the motorhome, and we bid the visitors a good trip to their new home. Then late at night, after we’d said our farewells with hugs and kisses, Logan and I drove home. We noticed that the camp by the dock was gone. Logan said Larry had texted him saying there were rumors of Vampires down by the camps on the river banks.
Logan and I spoke of our own lives and events that shaped us. As we get closer to Christmas I will think more about Nicholas and wish him luck on his quest. We should all have such thoughts in our hearts, dare we end up being bagged by Krampus.
A Happy December to all and wishes for love, hope, and finding whatever you are searching for.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman
Juliette’s Christmas Tree 2019