Old Soul

In my Thursday (sometimes not Thursday) advice column “Ask Juliette” I get a lot of questions about where Vampires come from. I also get a lot of people asking how they can become a Vampire (fat chance I’ll share that with any stranger on the Internet.)

So…

Where do we come from?

Why are we here?

My answers are easy.

  1. California.
  2. And because I’m having too much fun.

But seriously, I hear a lot of ruckus about where Vampires come from. Are we Demons, or some off shoot of Fallen Angels, or something more sinister? Is our condition from some virus or weird spores, or God knows what kind of blood bourne poison? Pashaw. Don’t be ridiculous or over dramatic. None of that is true.

I remember a long time ago when someone asked Tellias, who is over 2,000 years old, where we come from, and he said, “I don’t know. I wasn’t around back then. Plus I was a foundling. Nobody knows who my parents were, or if I as born this way. Does it matter? I know who I am.”

We can become tangled in ambiguous lore, or we can live now with the history and traditions we know. We should also live with facts that we know are true. Those who go back as far as Tellias have fragmented stories, or whispered (and sometimes shouted) stories of small groups of Vampires who might know the answers, or parts of the answers.  But it all comes down to two parts lore, three part science, and thirty seven parts something else. Werewolves are working on the science of it all (and the something else.) That is why Werewolves, Selkies, and Vampires are the way they are. They’re working more on shape changing than other things but still…

I asked Eleora who is as old beyond measure. Nobody knows exactly how old she is – maybe 2,500 years or so. Maybe older. She and Tellias live in their Queen Ann Victorian by the river, among the orchards. They’ve been together since he went to Britain with the Romans and found her on the edge of a cliff singing a song of night out to the cold dark sea. They were both alone, neither of them lost, and both Vampires. It was love at first sight. They both look all of nineteen or twenty years old but they are ancient. Extremely ancient.

So on a hot summer day, while we sat inside Eleora’s dark parlor, away from the heat, with tall crystal glasses of unsweetened iced tea, with sprigs of fresh mint from her yard, I asked her, “where do you come from Eleora? Why do you think Vampires are here?”

Eleora sat on the settee, wearing a faded tropical flowered sundress, her dark curls piled on her head with a red bow, and cheap purple flip flops (we used to call them Zories) on her feet.

She looked like she was thinking about what I’d said, then she took a sip of her tea. “Juliette dear, would  you like some brandy in your tea? Maybe some blood? I have some Sheriff’s blood. It’s pretty good with tea.”

“It is good,” said Tellias. “It has a kick. All that extra testosterone mixed with fear. Good stuff. I’ll go get it.” He left, and nodded to Eleora to answer my questions.

“When I was a teeny tiny child, a long long long time ago, I was small. Smaller than most children, even way back then. I’m not so small anymore. I’m 5 feet and four inches tall now. The same as you. You’re still that tall aren’t you?”

“Yes, dear, I am still that tall. Eleora were you a Vampire when you were small, or did you become a Vampire later?”

She smiled with a bit of fang. “I’ve never talked of this. I don’t remember…” Then she laughed. “I don’t remember much of anything. My head is just a mess of old papers, rocks, and locked travel trunks. But…let me see. I was always different from the others. I could see through the night and darkness. I could understand the calls of the wolves. I could scare the witches who lived in the caves near by with a giggle. I would hear the elders say I lived in a dream. I didn’t care. I was happy. My parents loved me. I loved them, because they were sort of different too. Not quiet like me, but serious and strong.”

Then one day I fell asleep in a field of flowers, listening to the waves of the ocean and the songs of the Selkies below on the beach. In the morning I returned home and home was gone. It was just like last summer when all of those poor folks, up by that lake, north of here, you know, when the fire came through and they lost everything. It broke my heart to think of them. Where did Tellias go?”

“I’m right here my love,” he said doorway where he had been quietly listening.

“Other children were there. And nobody had touched the albino. She was simple. Not like an old person, but like someone who hasn’t got her wits all together. She never spoke and never listened. Now she went about and gathered up the six children who were left. I found my parent’s heads and hands stuck in a tree. And then I started to scream until the sun came up the next morning. It was awful. Simply awful. Moon Girl, that is what we called the albino, dug holes and motioned to the children to help her fill them with flowers and body parts. She motioned for us to sing, while she also sang with her silent voice and let her tears fall. I remember wondering if she’d ever wipe her nose. Odd how children are like that. It is like when you were small Juliette and you’d always be watching people and wondering about them. You didn’t like grown ups when you were small. They disgusted you for the most part, especially when they’d get close and try to get you to talk to them. Remember?”

I remembered. “What happened next Eleora? What happened with Moon Girl and the other children.”

“Old Soul came through and took us to a safe place. He didn’t look old, but when he took us to the safe place he was as old as I am now.”

Old Soul. That was a new one to me. “Old Soul? Was he a Vampire?”

“Was and still is. He came with a great horse, and several more of his kind. They put us on their horses and took us away to where they lived in a great stone castle sort of house. He was an amazing person. He discovered that Moon Girl’s tongue had been cut out, and someone had poked sharp sticks into her ears when she was a tiny child. He taught her how to write and how to read. He taught all of us how to read and write. He was like an early saint tho brought the word of God unto the masses, but he brought all words to us, from cultures we couldn’t even imagine. He told us how wide the word was, and of many different kinds of people who lived all over. He also told us of the Vampires who lived in peace and protected those in need of help. Old Soul told us about how he and his people drank the blood of men, and in turn protected those men and kept them safe from demons and bad spirits. When I was older,  I made the choice to become a Vampire in order to protect those I loved. I love your nail color Juliette. It looks very pretty. You should stick with the light pinks.”

“Where did Old Soul come from?” I asked.

“Here and there.”

“Was he one of the first Vampires?”

“No, that would be silly. Nobody is that old.”

“Where did the first Vampires come from?”

“Would you like more tea? I think I’ll have more. I should give Old Soul a call. I haven’t seen him in, maybe… a long time.”

“He stopped by last Christmas time. Remember Eleora, he wore a red cashmere sweater that almost melted when you touched it,” said Tellias.

“Oh of course. And he is still so handsome,” said Eleora.

“Extremely handsome,” said Tellias. “He always was.”

“Who is he?” Again I asked.

“Just a friend,” said Eleora.

“A friend,” said Tellias.

“A good friend. That is why we are here,” said Eleora.

“Why are we here?” I asked.

Eleora took my hand in hers. “Because it is too hot to go outside.”

We chatted for the rest of the day about my kids, Vampires we know, and whatever popped into Eleora’s head. There are answers to every question. There are all kinds of answers to every question.

For some of us there is someone like Old Soul who mysteriously comes into our lives. For most of us it isn’t so mysterious. We make connections, we reach out, we discover each other. As my children take those steps into adulthood they’ve started to realize how important those connections can be. We take our history into the future and share – not just the stories but the love as well.

I know, I’m rambling just like Eleora. But that’s ok.

Have a good weekend everyone.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 the war, then ended up in a group home for lost 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 young 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.

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 Val, yes, that Val, my brother. His friend Alonzo joined them.

That was 32 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 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. 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.

Halloween is almost here and all kinds of ghosts 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 39 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

Romance Under An October Moon

I watch my husband Teddy move about the room and think he could be right off of the cover of one of those sexy Vampire books… only a lot hotter. Or I suppose colder if you’re a Vampire.

My own personal history is somewhat off limits and wide open (I’m blogging aren’t I.) But this is about a full moon in October and the love of my life. Sometimes we forget as parents that we had a life before the kids came along.

I have known Teddy forever, at least my forever. From the day I was born he was always there, then he wasn’t there, and over the years we were like two ships that passed in the night.

It was October 16, 1959 when we saw each other at a party at my Uncle Rob’s house in Santa Barbara. It was a perfect night under a full moon with the first nips of fall in the air. A perfect night for Vampires.

Teddy was there in a beautiful black suit. His silk tie was a geometric pattern of reds and gold. Every head in the room turned to look at my handsome friend. A few days before he’d come up from Los Angeles where he’d had business dealings, and I’m sure plenty of pleasure. Back then could outshine any of the old Hollywood stars day or night. He still can.

I wore a red satin wiggle dress to the party. My hair was pale blonde at the time and pulled back into a fashionable elegant twist. I think of myself now always in jeans and sweaters and remember the progression of fashion from hoops and corsets, wiggle dresses and garter belts, mini skirts and tights to my current collection of little A-line dresses, pencil skirts and crisp white shirts, well, and lots of jeans and tees.

Anyway, it was great to see Teddy. As usual I was living and traveling with my brother Valentine. Val and I were never anywhere more than a year or two. It had been at least a year since I’d seen Teddy. Tonight Val was at home miles away. I was at the party enjoying company of the other guest (especially the delightful Regular Human guests.)

So Teddy and I took time out and went outside for some time to our selves. From the large back deck we watched a pack of large dogs run across the beach. The moonlight bounced off of their fur.

“Those aren’t dogs,” said Teddy.

I looked at him, puzzled.

“They’re werewolves Juliette.”

It had been years since I’d seen werewolves in their wolf form. It brought up memories of our childhood. The only difference was that I knew who the Werewolves were in California of the 1860’s but he had no idea such beasts existed. He was human back then, a Regular Human, before he became a Vampire like my brothers and me. Oh well.

We talked through the night as old friends who have known each other forever do. We also spoke like new friends with a quick and comfortable attraction.

The following night we took the train north to San Francisco where Teddy lived with my eldest brother Max.

Their house was Victorian but the furnishings were modern and stylish. Max wasn’t home, but that was fine with me. Teddy didn’t offer to take me to my parent’s house or to stay with my brother Andrew. He didn’t show me to the guest room.

We fixed cocktails, talked a bit and laughed a lot. Then we went upstairs to his bedroom and made love for the first time.

Everything was perfect and right and comfortable and passionate and I knew he was the one I wanted to be with always. I’d known him forever but now things had gone a step, a big step, beyond friendship.

I thought of how if he never had become a Vampire he’d be gone, or 110 years old in 1959. How I would have missed him. I’ve missed so many friends over the years, but it is something we accept. We don’t have to like it, but we accept it as the way things have to be.

Max came home in the wee hours of the morning and while he said nothing to me I knew he was slightly annoyed. After all, his baby sister had just spent the night in the bed of his best friend.

He spoke to Teddy alone with low tones. I could hear Max calling him Theodore. It is always serious when those two are called Theodore or Maxwell. Max eventually had to admit to himself that Teddy and I had always been close.

Teddy and I didn’t really make things serious until the early 1990’s but we always knew where we could find each other.

I think of those few days in 1959, a few weeks before my 100th birthday and it seems like a million years ago, and it seems like yesterday.

Now we have one child in college and one in High School. Our discussions center around hilarious tales of high school, things that need to be done around the house, and our busy October schedule. We each have our jobs, we have a lot of friends, and we have our children. The kids come first. Despite any frustrations and road blocks and tragedies and stupid things (our lives are full of stupid things) we manage to make it work.

But still, there are times when we find those moments of passion together, or just quiet time under the light of the full moon.

Of course this is the short version of a longer story. A much longer story.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vampire Love

Short Story Sunday: Tell Tail Heart (or A Literary Tale)

A Literary Tale

He woke with a start.

THUMP THUMP THUMP

THUMP THUMP THUMP

Immediately he thought of The Tell Tale Heart, that story of horror written by Poe.

Bolting up in bed and now awake he realized it was just the thumping tails of his brother’s wolfhounds. Why had he agreed to take care of the beasts for the week?

These huge beasts were no Baskerville Hounds. They were sweet and goofy. Sure they could kill, he supposed they could kill, but they were just happy dogs. Large dogs with large hearts. Large dogs who needed to go out and leave large piles in his yard. And they needed to do that RIGHT NOW.

All week long he’d been obsessed with trying to find the story that matched his life. No Jane Austin. No Thomas Wolf. Maybe a touch of Charlotte Bronte or Donna Tartt. A little Dave Stone or Nathan Tackett. Maybe Mandy White? J. Harrison Kemp? Gabriel García Márquez? The poetry of Daniel Tanzo? Jade M. Phillips? David X. Hunter or Michael Haberfelner? Lucy Lastic? Stephen King? More like it the beautiful haunting romantic historic stories of Diana Garcia or Marie Frankson. What about John Sanford or John Steinbeck. He liked the idea of Steinbeck. He liked the idea of all of them… except maybe White or King. That pair of horror writers were brilliant but far too scary to base a life on their works. Rob Betz , Angie Parisi or Gina McKnight came to mind. He thought about it for a while longer while the dogs played and ran in the yard as the sun vanished and night took over the sky.

He returned inside and fed the large gray beasts. If dogs could write what would they write about? His mind was on finding a story. The dogs curled up on the floor next to a wall of bookshelves. He looked at the hundreds of titles. All had inspired him but none were his life.

Then he pulled a small volume out and fingered the pages. In pencil were sketches and stories a friend had written years ago. Since then he’d followed her tales. Stories of fantasy, then stories of real life.

He picked up his phone and called. She picked up. “Marla, this is Andrew. I just wanted to tell you… What have you been up to?”

They talked for hours about life and the past 18 years, since her wedding. She’d lived life not like one of her stories but almost as exciting.

“You were never afraid of me. I mean, because I’m a Vampire,” Andrew told her.

“You were never afraid of me because I’m a writer,” she told him.

He laughed. They made plans. She’d keep writing her stories. And as for Andrew, he’d keep living his own story.

 

 

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For more fiction from Juliette Kings, Marla Todd, Mandy White and others click here for a list of find fun and fantastic short fiction.

For more short stories from the authors listed above click here.

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For more about Andrew just put in his name (Andrew or Andy) in the search window of this blog. You’ll come up with a bunch of stuff. Or go to the Stand Alone story link (left sidebar) and see “Morning at the Vineyard” or “Dancing on the Beach.”

Happy Reading,

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

poe harry clarke