Mutations

Sam Judge

 

Part 1: The Apocalypse

My grandparent’s crazy is the new normal.

Normal is still pretty crazy, well, because it isn’t normal. We don’t want it to be normal, but unfortunately that is what normal is to me.

Does any of that make sense?

My grandmother and I talk a lot about that. I’m so glad she’s still around. She’s the one who encouraged me to go into reporting and photojournalism.  She is also the one who encouraged me never to color my hair. But enough about me.

The crazy stuff started to happen when my parents were in college. First were the pandemics in China that spread through most of Asia wiping out millions of people in most of the large urban centers. To this day most people of Chinese descent live outside of China.

After that happened, along with a shit load of political fall out, there was another plague of a sorts. Radioactive and other unidentified debris started falling from the sky. The governments of the world claimed they didn’t know where it came from. From the sky was all they could say. From the fucking sky.

Shortly after the first zombies showed up in Australia. They were already dealing with the aftermath of the third big wave of fires when the population started to die, but not die. Roaming packs of shuffling virus infested humans with rotting flesh attacked the normal living. When bullets ran out flamethrowers were used, and even more fires started. Entire cities burned.

From Australia the zombies moved slowly across all continents gnawing and rotting along the way. In the United States the Midwest and the Chicago area were hit especially hard. It is estimated that almost forty percent of the population between the ages of fifteen and seventy became zombies before the epidemic died down. The zombie attacks were compounded by an never ending Midwestern winter.

Governments continued to crumble. Strange deadly disease continued to pop up, and then vanish after massive causalities.

After the first wave of zombies someone in what was once known as North Korea shot off a nuclear warhead claiming the USA had caused most of their population to die of the Black Crow flu. The bomb landed on Tokyo, Japan. That started yet another war and more tolls on the already weak human populations and wild life.

By the time I was born the Southern Hemisphere was for the most part totally uninhabitable. A few brave souls still lived there but not many outside of the research stations and military posts.

After that all hell broke loose againfor a short time, then things got really bazar. Some yahoos from the rogue Canadian Space Frontshot the alien research station out of the sky thinking it was a Chinese space station shooting zombie virus bombs down over rural Alberta.

The alien space station landed in the middle of Nevada. Seriously, as if Nevada didn’t already have their share of alien based urban legends and whack jobs crawling all over the desert. Unfortunately all but two of the twenty-four aliens on board were killed. The two who survived managed to say that they’d been watching us for a while and were frankly shocked at what they’d seen. Then they too died. We never did find out where they were from. The funny thing is that they looked like us except their skin was kind of a baby blue, and their eyes were slightly larger like anime characters. When I was a kid I wanted to go visit the site but my parents would never take me.

After the proof of life outside of our planet was proved, religious groups and cults started to pop up preaching the end of days, and other crazy ass biblical prophecies. I remember my mom telling me that she didn’t think things could get any stranger, but she was wrong. Things did get stranger, right in her own home. In her own womb in fact.

Around the time of my birth another new and unique phenomenon began to happen. PAM otherwise known asPost Apocolypitic Mutations. I know all about that one personally because I’m a PAM baby.

I was born with dark hair, but by the time I was a year old my hair had turned steel gray. By the time I was in college white and silver highlights grew in.  My eyes are the same steel gray color as my hair. My most unique feature, one that I rarely share with others, is the ability to conceal lies from others, including PAM babies who have the ability to catch lies. And if you’re asking, why yes, it does come in handy.

Other PAM cases were more extreme than mine. There were kids with seven fingers, tails, and odd multicolored eyes, but those weren’t the really interesting cases. Some children displayed traits that came right out of the old super hero comics. There were people with extrodinary hearing, or could see miles away. Every kind of physical strength and endurance you could think of was showing up with PAM kids.

One girl known as Emily Seventeen could read minds. Every government and nut job religious organization wanted her. She died of a brain hemorrhage the day she turned twenty-one. Her brain was studied but nobody could ever figure out how it worked.

After much study it was discovered that all of these people with extraordinary strengths had their weakness that would make then “normal.” They all had their proverbial kryptonite. The most famous example of this was my friend HarrietO’Malley who could disjoint her entire body, every single bone, and creep around like a giant ameba, as flat as a pancake. She was tired of the mess, the sloppy rejointing, and the general discomfort of her particular skill set.

After a lot of trial and error Harrietaccidentally found a fix to put an end to being ameba girl. When her younger brother died in a car accident Harriet had a large memorial tattoo in his honor put on her upper back and across her shoulders. It was a play on words because when she we feeling depressed he always told her “I have your back Harriet.”  The ink on her back was absolutely beautiful and in full color. When the tattoo was done and completely healed she was asked to go flat. She couldn’t do it. The tattoo held her together. Her brother did indeed have her back. A simple tattoo was her kryptonite. Who would have guessed? Or maybe it was simply giving over to grief and love. It always seemed far-fetched to me, but she was my friend so I believed her.

 

Part 2: The Assignment

So that brings us to now. I’m a science and political reporter for TCN, I might add, the largest and most prestigious news agency around. TCN is unique in that it is not associated with any political party, religion, or even region. It is completely neutral (like Switzerland before the zombies ate everyone there.)

One day I was sitting in my home office in Laguna Beach, drinking coffee, and working on the possibilities of more alien visitations, when I received an assignment to interview Sam Judge. Yes, the over the top ultra famous famous Sam Judge.

Like me, Sam Judge is also a PAM baby. Unlike me, his unique features were more along the lines of my friend Harriet O’Malley – high on the super hero scale.

I caught a flight out the next morning with Harriet, who by the way is my photographer, and our sound/camera guy Phil Steen. At security our I.D.s were checked showing Harriet and I were PAMs.

“Do you have any special powers we should know about?” I was asked by the security woman.

“No,” I told her. “Just my funny hair color.” What I didn’t tell her is that I can lie and nobody, not even a PAM with special lie detecting powers, can detect my lies.

Harriet told the security officer that she could liquefy at one time but wouldn’t do it on the plane. Phil isn’t a PAM so he went right through despite his shaggy un-kept beard, tacky pink and green plaid pants, and orange jacket.

On the flight to Chicago Harriet and Phil talked about taking making some side trips to interview famous zombie hunters old, and slept. I read up on Sam Judge.

At the time Sam Judge was a twenty eight year old PAM. His birthday was three days before mine. That was interesting.

His powers are extraordinary physical strength, and the ability to read lies. He also possesses well-honed leadership skills.

People love Sam Judge. As a war hero he’d single handedly slain entire armies of remaining zombies, unsavory cannibalistic humans, and took on monster mutant lizards, dogs, and elk. Sam Judge never lost a battle. That didn’t mean that he never lost at love.

Same Judge was left at the alter when his bride ran off with his best man. He didn’t take it to well and exacted revenge upon everyone she knew by digging into their rather unsavory business practices. Both of her parents, her brothers, and the ex best friend were now in prison. That was interesting.

He mentioned later that she never told him that she loved him. He would have known it was a lie. Nobody can keep a lie from Sam Judge if he wants to hear it. If Sam Judge doesn’t like what he hears he will be one badass vindictive bastard. I know if he’d known me than I could have told him she was trouble and saved him a lot of grief.

Since then woman had captured Sam’s heart. He was not dating anyone seriously. There were no prospects for serious relationships. Handsome Sam Judge does not give his heart away.

Sam was born into what I would consider a cult, called Chosen Followers. They are a hybrid of Catholic and fundamental evangelical beliefs mixed with doomsday prophesy weirdness. Just for kicks and grins add in some crazy stories about visions of the Virgin Mary.

Sam Judge’s mother, Isabelle McCarthy Judge, said that Sam was chosen by God, and that it was God who gave Sam his powers. She refused to call him a PAM or use the termPost Apocalyptic Mutations when describing her son. Mrs. Judge went all the way to the Supreme Court of the Untied States to get the title removed from all of her precious Sam’s paperwork.

Most interesting of all was that with all of the attention on Sam Judge over the past ten years nobody had ever figured out what his kryptonite was. Nobody. Well, nobody so far. I intended to find out exactly what made Sam Judge tick.

 

Part Three: The Interview

As usual Chicago was freezing. I’m surprised the plane was able to land due to the current snowstorm. Current snowstorm is an understatement. They had below zero winters that lasted for nine months out of the year.

I wanted to be professional but in no way frumpy. A black skirt, pared with a bright sapphire blue sweater, black tights and flat black boots. I didn’t put any clips in my chin length gray hair. Because this would be filmed I had on the full face make-up.

Gabrielle dressed similar in a forest green wool wrap dress, tights and flat over the knee boots. Phil showed up in all black save for a purple and yellow tie. He’d shaved off his shaggy beard that night and showed of a handsome face that I’d never seen before. He’d also pulled his shoulder length hair up into a neat man bun. Phil actually looked really good for a change. I had to compliment him on making the effort.

It took us about a year, ok maybe an hour, to go though security at the Judge mansion. Not only were we patted down, and all of our belongings checked, we were also asked detailed questions that we’d already answered in a preliminary email.

A pale young man who introduced himself as Timothy Ryan led us to a large living room filled with artwork, comfortable furniture and flowers. One side of the wall was all windows overlooking the new Chicago skyline. Harriet made a beeline to the huge stone fireplace and thawed out her hands. Timothy showed us where an antique sterling silver coffee, tea and water service had been set up, then left the room.

“Modern Prairie mansion overkill,” said Phil looking around.

“I like it,” I said. “I could live in a place like this, you know, if it was back home. I wonder when Sam is going to show up?”

“Right now,” said a voice, followed by a laugh.

There he was, Sam Judge in all his glory, looking better in person than in any video or photograph. Despite his impressive body builder physique, the first thing I noticed was his eyes. Bright hazel, the color of the winter waves, with genuine happiness showing through. Those eyes were in a gorgeous, handsome, beautiful male face. His famous hair, a glossy caramel color, fell down his back and to his waist.

“Welcome. I’m so glad you made it. I’m Sam Judge.” He approached me and held out his hand.

As I took his right hand he put his left hand over it in almost a protective way. I looked right up into those beautiful hazel eyes. “I’m Lilah Wolfe. Good to meet you Mr. Judge.”

“Call me Sam.”

I introduced Harriet and Phil, and then noticed nobody else had joined us. Usually men like Sam Judge had an entourage or at least a few minions hanging about, but it was just Sam.

“You’re known for your strength and speed. What else do you want people to know about you?” I asked.

Sam gave me the answer I was looking for. “I never enjoyed the things I had to do. Dealing with zombies, violence, mutant insects, isn’t fun for anyone.”

“You dug a classroom of children and their teachers out of the rubble of a building. You got to them faster than any machinery could have.”

“Lilah, I just went on auto pilot. When I found them.” He paused to compose himself. “The children were so small. The only thing I could think of was getting them back to their parents. When I saw the teachers all I could think of was getting them back to their own children.”

We talked a while longer about Sam Judge’s heroic achievements. Then I asked the question that nobody dared ask before.

“Your mother claims you’re not a PAM baby.  She even went so far to have a hint of post apocalyptic mutations removed from all of your medical records. How do you explain your strength and speed? How do you explain the fact that nothing injures you?”

He turned on the charm all the sudden and almost threw me off of my game. “I’m not immune heartbreak.”

“You wouldn’t be human if you weren’t immune to the entanglements of romantic love. You also can detect whether someone is telling a lie or the truth. You’re 100% correct all of the time. Sam, how do you explain that?”

“I can’t. My mother always said my gifts are from God. She had a vision when she was pregnant that said I would be infallible and a seeker of the truth.”

“She was also in Las Vegas at she got pregnant with you, the same weekend the alien research vessel was shot down. She was exposed to cosmic fall out when she was pregnant with you.”

“A lot of women were exposed to fall out from space, and nuclear fall out from wars, and more toxic crap than we can count. Their children all turned out fine. Let me ask you something Lilah. You’re a PAM baby. Where was your mother when she became pregnant with you?”

“San Francisco. Safe in San Francisco. You have a point. So you honestly believe your powers are from God?”

“I don’t even speculate on where my unique abilities come from. I accept who I am and what I can do. I try to make the world a better place with my gifts.”

“What’s your kryptonite?”

Sam smiled another dazzling smile that made my heart skip a beat. This was so unexpected. Was there something he wasn’t telling me?

He laughed and put his hand on mine. “I don’t know. I don’t even know if there is something that will break my spell.”

“A kiss maybe?”

“Is that an offer?”

“No. I was just kidding. So tell me about your work with the arts?”

The interview went on as expected. I asked a lot of questions. Sam was charming and engaging. I knew he’d capture every single heart of every single person who saw the interview. I’d done my job.

 

Part Four: Off the Record

Harriet and Phil went shopping on the Miracle Mile. Sam and I went to lunch at O’Joys, the best deep dish pizza in New Chicago.

Over a bottle of Chianti and pizza we talked off the record.

“I know you’re a PAM baby. Sam you can’t believe that you’re part of a biblical prophecy like your mother tells everyone.”

He smiled and took my hand, “I have to keep her happy. Frankly the belief has become more of a detriment. I’m starting to look like a fool.”

“What about your dad?”

“He goes along with whatever my mother says.”

The proliferation of religious extremists since the big break down of society due to wars, pandemics and the existence of aliens, had always disturbed me. The very idea that the man sitting across from me seemed totally immune to what was going on seemed the height of hypocrisy. Phil had once told me Sam’s kryptonite was probably women. What I saw in Sam was a man who, contrary to his own worldly views and sophistication, was letting himself be used as a symbol of strength by a group that many considered to be a religious cult.

I changed the subject and we talked about other things. After lunch Sam’s driver took us to the Art Institute of Chicago where we wandered the halls getting to know each other better. I couldn’t believe how much Sam Judge and I had in common. We both loved the same art and music. We both loved dogs but neither one of us had time for one right now. We both wanted to have families one day but worried about being PAM kids. We both had our secrets that we never told anyone else. I found myself telling him things that I don’t share with other people. And he shared with me. I promised him I wouldn’t put any of it in the press. He believed me. I didn’t exactly tell the truth. I kept the idea of using some of his secrets in the back of my mind.

From a wonderful lunch, to a somewhat romantic afternoon in the museum, we ended up back at Sam’s house. From there we had dinner in his kitchen. Aside from security on the parameter of the building, no other staff was present. Sam cooked. I drank wine and listened to him tell funny stories about growing up with a mother who thought she was in charge of the strong boy who saw right through her. I told him stories of my work, and my life in California, growing up as a PAM child. Sure we talked about ourselves but we talked about everything else too. We discovered we both liked the same books, the same music, and laughed at the same silly jokes. Our lives were so different but we clicked as if we’d been friends for years.

As we finished cleaning up Sam put his arm around my waist and gently pulled me close.

“Lilah,” he said. Just my name. That was all it took. I kissed Sam Judge before he could kiss me. But oh how he kissed back.

The next morning I woke in Sam’s bed wondering if I’d done the right thing. It felt so right in my heart, and with every cell in my body (OMG did it ever) but logically I knew it was wrong. I’d crossed the professional line.

Sam brought in coffee, but it went cold as we made love again.

As we lay in the afterglow I whispered, “What makes you so strong Sam Judge?”

Sam laughed. “Don’t tell a soul, but my mother always said it was my hair.”

I knew he was telling the truth.

“I can’t imagine anything so crazy,” I said, knowing he wouldn’t catch my lie. I could imagine it was his hair. Damn, it I needed to know, and the story would make me millions. On the other hand, how could I even think of harming this beautiful man who was so sweet and trusting?

 

Chapter 5: The Attack

I had lunch in the famous Olde Pope’s Bar and Grill with Harriet and Phil. We talked over stuffed potatoes and beer. They teased me about spending the night with Sam. I told them that I could easily fall in love with him, them I laughed it off. I didn’t want them to know that I was falling hard for Sam Judge.

“Did you find out what would take his strength away?” Harriet asked.

I should have said anything, but these were my two best friends. “He said his mother told him that it was his hair. That’s why he won’t cut it. I doubt that but you never know.” As soon as the words came out of my mouth I regretted it. Harriet and Phil glanced at each and smiled. That wasn’t a good sign. “Don’t even think about it,” I said, but I knew they already were.

That night the sky had cleared. Sam took me out to his roof to see a sky full of trillions of stars, more than I’d ever seen. While I gaped in wonder, he pointed out constellations and galaxies.

“Sam, where do you think the blue aliens came from?”

“I’ve always thought they were from the heart of the Milky Way,” he said. “I’ve imagined they sent research ships out to the far ends of the spirals of the galaxy to find like minded civilizations. When you think about it, they must have had families and friends they left behind. You have to wonder if they fell in love, or suffered heartbreak.”

“You’re such a romantic.”

“Maybe. To be honest, and don’t tell me I’m crazy, but Lilah I think I’m falling in love with you. This is more than an infatuation. I don’t mean to sound like a cliché but…” He held me close. “Do you believe in love at first sight?”

I rested my head on his chest. “Yes, I do. Sam, I absolutely believe it,” and that was no lie.

Savor those perfect moments in life, because in today’s world they never seem to last, especially in the freezing war torn Midwest.

Later that night, as we finished dinner at one of Sam’s favorite places on the edge of Lake Michigan we held hands and talked. I told Sam that the lake looked like a frozen ocean. The only difference was that I couldn’t smell the salt in the air.

Just as Sam was about to speak, a loud voice shouted “WHORE WHORE. Stay away from him. She’s nothing but a harlot sent here to seduce you and take you from us.”

Obviously they must have seen the interview that had been aired the day before.

“Ladies,” said Sam, as he stood. “Please stop.”

“Whore, whore, whore,” a group of a dozen women yelled as they ran towards us.

Then the unthinkable happened. Hell, it seems like everything is unthinkable these days, but this was personal. One of the women came at me with a knife. Sam stepped in her way and I can still hear myself screaming as she plunged it into his heart.

The poisoned tipped knife that was meant for me went into Sam’s chest. The women continued to scream at me. They pushed me down and started kicking me and clawing at me. Suddenly I was pulled up by Sam’s strong arm. The knife wound barely fazed him. I’d never seen anything like it.

“Leave her alone,” he growled at the women. “Be gone.”

Sam indeed did have super strength. The press showed up and he told them how he’d saved the woman he loved, and gave a stern warning to anyone who would come between us. I was in in a world of hurt, but overwhelmed with emotion when I heard his words. I started to cry, not because of the pain but because my heart was breaking. I didn’t know what to think. I was falling in love but there was no way I could stay in crazy land with Sam Judge.

Medical crews on the scene put a butterfly bandage on a cut on my forehead. Sam’s wound was stitched up. They said the knife had been tipped with Zom-bee poison. It would have killed me, but it didn’t even seem to faze Sam.

The women were arrested. Sure I thought my nightmare was over, but it had just started.

Sam took me back to his house where, after a few strong painkillers, we fell asleep in each other’s arms.

I woke to a sound of something like water sloshing. I looked over to see a glint of metal by Sam’s head. There in her ameba form, slithering up the side of the bed was Harriet with a pair of scissors. Phil was by the door. Before I could say WTF Harriet had cut off Sam’s hair right at the bottom of his neck. I screamed. Phil screamed. Harriet dropped the hair on the floor and took her own shape.

Sam sat up in the bed. “I feel sick. Lilah, I can’t see. I feel so weak.” Then he passed out.

I’ve never been so angry in my life. All I can remember is screaming at Harriet and Phil.

“You told me you couldn’t transformed anymore,” I screamed Harriet.

“I lied, and you didn’t even catch it,” she said to me her eyes smoldering red. “You’re not even a real mutant you gray haired freak.” Then she grabbed up Sam’s hair off the floor, and ran from the room. That was the last time I ever spoke to Harriet.

After the paramedics showed up I kissed Sam and told him that I loved him. He opened his eyes and said, “I love you Lilah. Oh shit, what happened to my hair?”

Like the coward I am, I left Chicago leaving Sam and any romantic thoughts behind. His mother said I took his strength. I was branded as a whore and a horrible person. Screw them. I didn’t care. My only concern was about Sam.

Sam told everyone it wasn’t my fault. But it was. I knew it was all my fault. I should have never been involved with him. I should have never had told his secret to Harriet and Phil.

 

Chapter 6. Revelations

About a month later, as I was sitting on the beach drinking coffee and feeling sorry for myself Phil came up and sat next to me. I hadn’t seen him since that night in Chicago.

“What are you doing here Phil?”

He gave me a weak smile. “I’m sorry. I tried to stop her, Harriet. She just liquefied and I couldn’t stop her. I am so sorry.”

“Screw you Phil,” I knew he was telling me the truth but I was still angry with him. “Harriet sold Sam’s hair on eBay. Can you believe that? I will NEVER forgive her. Never.”

“Listen, Lilah, I have some news about Sam.”

“I know, he is doing better. Sam is better than ever. Blah blah blah. But he’ll never trust me again.”

“You’re wrong. It wasn’t his hair. What took his strength and eyesight was the Zom-bee poison on the knife. With your kiss you gave him the enzymes he needed to survive.”

“But Phil, I’d kissed him before that.”

“Your enzymes your body produced were activated by fear. When you thought Sam was going to die your body chemistry kicked in. There are others like you who also created these healing enzymes. Scientists are calling the enzymes the love bugs.”

I went home and tried to process the information Phil had told me. I didn’t know if I’d ever forgive Harriet. People were still calling me a whore and blaming me for taking away their hero. I didn’t take anything away from anyone. I saved Sam but the truth never mattered. Jeeze, if the truth ever mattered mankind wouldn’t be in such a fucked up mess.

Sam contacted me about once every week or so just to see how I was doing. I was cordial but embarrassed. He was friendly but never romantic. I couldn’t bring myself to even think of going out to see him. I wasn’t part of his weird culture. The thought of seeing his mother terrified me. My heart broke every time I saw one of texts or emails.

Everything seemed to be a mess, but I pulled myself up, ignored the hate mail and moved on. I landed a new job as the Host for the 62ndseason of The Bachelor. As far as I was concerned, personally I was done with love, but at least I could help some other poor fool try their hand at it. The good reviews knocked me off my feet. They were THAT GOOD. Fans loved me.

I also redecorated my house and adopted a medium-sized six-legged rescue dog named Muffin. My mom, who’d been my rock through this whole ordeal, told me that happiness would be mine to have. I hoped she was right. Oh, and she took in Muffin’s five legged, three tailed sister Cookie.

On morning, of my 30thbirthday I heard that Sam Judge was starting a foundation for the advancement of research on PAM babies. He had also donated millions of dollars to research into combatting harmful and deadly viruses and poisons that proliferated after the last biological warfare cluster right before Sam and I were born.  There was something else I found out. Sam Judge had a PhD in Biochemistry. Who would have known? I sure didn’t and it wasn’t anything he advertised.

Sam Judge was strong without his superpowers. He was strong with his compassion and his mind. And here I was hosting a dating show. Hey, I guess somebody had to do it.

I heard a knock on the door. I almost didn’t get it. Seriously, I never answered my door these days. Half the time it was a bag of dog shit, or something equally nasty. To my surprise Sam stood on my front porch.

His hair had grown out to his shoulders. The addition of glasses made him look even sexier than he already was.

I hardly got the words out, “Sam what are you doing here?”

“I got tired of the cold. Are you going to invite me in?”

It turns out The PAM Center for Biological Research was being built just down the road from me at University of California, Irvine. Sam was also going to be teaching there.

We got married six months later and I’m expecting our baby. Yes, we had all the tests done and the baby has no mutations.

Yesterday as we walked along the beach a giant fireball came from the sky and landed about a quarter mile from us. We ran to see what it was. Another alien spacecraft. Yes, I finally got to see the aliens. I hugged Sam and told him I loved him more than all the stars in the sky. Yes, my grandparent’s crazy was the new normal, but life is good, and I know it will only get better.

~ end

Short Story Sunday: There Would Always Be Cats

Everyone was surprised when the first bombs went off in the Southern Hemisphere. Who would have thought? So much for going to Machu Picchu for Bill’s retirement. Then again, she didn’t really think Bill would ever retire? His fans demanded more and more each year in a time when one would think he’d be too old to be considered sexy anymore.

After that nobody could have even imagined those people from God knows where, from some other universe or galaxy, or even Hell, coming along and causing even more problems.

Apparently they, the purple people, been watching the Earth for a while like a bunch of creepy stalkers. Ellie knew all about stalkers. She’d been a movie star (under another name) for decades. She’d had perverts with cameras trying to climb over her fence and bothering her when she took her kids to the beach, to school, or anywhere else they went. She knew all about stalkers.

Fortunately for humanity the strangely attractive, but violent purple humanoids were allergic, to of all things, cats. Yes, cats did them in. First of all, in all of their travels through the universe they had never seen anything so adorable and appealing. Second, and most important, even their highly super advanced space suits couldn’t keep out whatever it was about cats that finally killed them.

It was like a drug. The purple aliens had to have cats. They craved the soft fur, and the sound of purring. They swooned at the sight of a tiny triangular nose, and the child like mewing. Then they died.

Cat dander. Who would have thought?

All of the aliens died. That was a good thing because the governments of The United States of America, Canada, and Mexico were able to get the technology off of their spaceships. Nobody was quite sure what was done with said technology, but the humans of North America had it ALL.

Then the weather changed, again, and some sort of weird pressure system clamped off the radioactive and other poisons from the south. By then the poisons and aliens had also killed off half of the population of the Northern Hemisphere. North America, Most of Europe, the Pacific Rim, and most of North Africa were spared, but it was carnage in between. The purple aliens came through Asia like the ancient Huns, only sparing the lands along the Himalayas. They also crept into Florida but were killed off by all of the cats in Key West.

Ellie poured a glass of wine and thought about how sad it was that the Argentinian and Australian vineyards had been all but destroyed. It was a good thing that the California vineyards had been untouched.

She looked at the gray green pelt stretched out in her back yard, then at the ocean view beyond her infinity pool. The gray green aliens had come next. They were especially violent but there had been fewer of them. They’d discovered beer and meth. It didn’t take long before all of them died, but not without causing a lot of damage and hate among the California locals. The folks in Silicone Valley had taken the gray green technology. There again, it was too soon to know if anyone was going to do anything with it.

She thought of her husband and how sad he had been lately. He was from Australia. He’d come over thirty years ago to do just one movie and stayed. His ability to do any accent, along with his good looks had kept him working. Even now, after the wars, and alien invasions, and a prosthetic leg (blown off while fighting purple aliens) he was still working. His most recent movie was about lovers separated by the pressure system that separated the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Too bad it couldn’t be filmed on location. Ellie was glad the movie had finished shooting. Bill had been so sad through all of it.

As a formation of jet fighters flew over Ellie thought of their eldest son. He was a pilot. He might even be up there right now looking out for aliens to blast out of the sky.  Her daughter had spent time seeking out the war criminals who’d set the bombs off. Now war had been banned.  Most primitive social structures had been more or less disbanded. Unfortunately after the bombs, and the opening up of holes for aliens to get in, people were just fed up with aggression and assholes. Just fed up.

The only advantage was that now Ellie could have as many cats as she wanted. There were seven of them right now. Edward (gray tabby), Olie (orange tabby), Mitzi (calico), Jen (black), Rick (black and white tuxedo), Pixy (gray and white tabby), Jasper (gray).

Out of the sky came a fireball followed by the formation of jet fighters. The fireball crashed down on the beach, and showed itself to be a golden sphere with a large protrusion that looked like an old fashioned TV antenna. Ellie put her wine down and grabbed her binoculars to get a better look.  A door popped open on the top of the sphere and out of it emerged an orange man in a silver jump suit.  His ears were pointed like an elf.

“Not on my fucking shelf you don’t,” Ellie said to herself.

“Ellie, what in the world are you talking about.”

She turned to see Bill had come out on the deck to join her.

“An orange alien in a gold ball with an old fashioned TV antenna. It looks like an elf.”

The jets flew over and bombed the gold ball and the orange alien to oblivion.

“We’ll go down tomorrow and check out the debris, said Bill. “We might find something interesting.”

“I wonder where it was from,” said Ellie.

“I don’t care at this point dear. We’re nothing but food for them.”

“These ones are orange, like those creatures from Willy Wonka.”

Oompa Loompas.”

“With elf ears.”

As Bill put his arm around his wife’s waist they both turned to the sound of someone running across the yard.

Soot and blue blood covered orange alien in a half burned silver jumpsuit ran towards them, followed by seven snarling, hissing, screaming cats. As the cats grew closer, the alien stopped and looked around. It opened its mouth to show rows of tiny sharp teeth. Bright blue eyes the size of teacups opened wide. No sound came out.

“Get out of my yard,” Ellie yelled at it, picking a Meyer lemon off of a nearby tree and throwing it as hard as she could, hitting the orange alien on the head. As she grabbed another lemon the cats attacked clawing up the silver jumpsuit covered legs. The alien then dove into the infinity pool.

“Oh for God’s sake,” said Bill. “Not in the pool.”

The cats stood together by the edge of the pool. Along with Ellie and Bill they watched the orange alien fizz like a bath bomb and disintegrated leaving nothing but a bubbling orange scum on the surface of the pool and a charred silver jumpsuit.

“It must have been the chlorine,” said Ellie.

“Maybe,” said Bill. “I’ll call the authorities to come clean up the mess and take a report.”

“Just in case,” said Ellie, “we should call the pool service for an extra cleaning.”

“Good idea,” said Bill.

Later after the authorities had taken a report, and the toxic waste crew and scientists had cleaned up the mess, Ellie opened a bottle of wine.

She and Bill, the love of her life, watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.

Their cats gathered around and purred.

“You know Bill, we’re living in weird times. I always thought the 1980’s when we were young were weird, but these times are really weird.”

“Weirder than extreme shoulder pads and Xanadu?”

“Well, maybe not,” Ellie said laughing.

Then they clinked their glasses together, and watched the sunset, not daring to speculate what the future might bring. All they knew was that it was their own crazy romantic story to tell; like a strange underground cult movie that turned out to be their life story. And of course along with their love and their children, they had their cats. That was the one thing they could always be certain of. There would always be cats.

 

~ end

Tangled Tales

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

2019 Nano Pablano Cheer Peppers. 

 

A Short Romance (about a long romance)

A Short Romance (about a long romance)

Lady Sarah put down her cup of tea and pondered the meaning of her life. According to her father she shouldn’t be doing this. First of all she shouldn’t be using her brain (according to her father) and second (according to her father) her life had no meaning until she became a wife. That would be a wife to a man of her father’s choosing.

The first time she was engaged it was to George. They’d grown up together. The prospect of being George’s wife was exciting. They’d been friends forever. But he grew distant and then one day went away and came back a week later with a beautiful wife and a tiny newborn baby. The baby had been named Sarah.

The second man she had been engaged to was Percy. He was quite wealthy, good looking and said “Sarah, dear Sarah, I am enchanted by you.” They spent long hours walking and talking about all sorts of things that made Sarah use her brain. And when he kissed her (her father did not know) she wanted to use the rest of her body too. Unfortunately a month before the wedding Percy fell from a horse and was immediately killed.

Sarah thought she would die that day. She went into mourning and thought she’d never see the sunshine again.

Six months later Sarah’s father, against her wishes, her father arranged for her to be married to Jonathan, a young wealthy titled widow. His beautiful, rich and pregnant wife had thrown herself from a bridge one cold winter morning and sank down under the ice. It was horrible. But Sarah came to realize that it was a fate better than living with the abusive Jonathan. He already hinted at how Sarah had to change and conform to meet his standards. He told others how he would mould her and whip her into shape. The first time he slapped her and called her weak she said nothing. The second time she called off the engagement, telling her father that she’d rather jump off a bridge than marry a monster.

Now, two years later, she was engaged again. She remembered the night that awkward Sebastian was introduced to her. He was nice enough to look at – more than nice. But he was quiet, not the usual loud boisterous kind of man her father would bring around.

One day she’d seen Sebastian in the stable after a rain storm removing his wet clothing. Now at night she closed her eyes and imagined him in her bedroom, without the wet clothing and without the awkwardness.

One day Sarah was having afternoon tea with Sebastian – it was one of those rare times when they were alone. She looked at the young, rich, handsome, quiet man that she was going to marry and realized she hardly knew him.

“Have you always been so quiet?” She knew it was rude and improper but she had to ask.

“I’m, uh, not always so quiet dear Sarah. It seems as if this engagement was thrust upon us, this union, this contract… I have become so very fond of you. I will love you. I promise you that I will. I will adore you. You are everything I dreamed of. The fact that you ask me about my quiet nature shows you have an active mind. I like that. I’m not always so quiet. I promise you.”

I will love you. It was an odd thing to say. It was true, maybe. But he didn’t love her yet. He hardly knew her. She hardly knew him.

Sarah finished her tea, put on her coat and went out for a walk. She wished she was in the city right now. It would have been nice to see people.

In the morning fog she was a figure on the path. It was Sebastian. She ran to him and then took his face in her hands and kissed him.

He put his arms around her and kissed her again and again and again.

“We need to make it work. We’ll be happy. We won’t be strangers who live together for years. We will be friends and partners. You will be my equal. Our love will be true and strong,” he said to Sarah.

She looked into his eyes and wondered, “Who is this man?”

Sebastian put his forehead against Sarah’s and said, “I want to marry you Sarah. I see your independence, I see your spirit and your passion. Our parents think this is a good match. They see our union as good business. They also have given up on our prospects of marriage. I see this as a union of souls and of like minds. Sarah, marry me. Let me grow to love you with a passion that will last for a thousand years.”

They kissed again, and then he said, “But, I have a secret that even my family doesn’t know. Hear me out and if you don’t want to marry me feel free to leave and I will be gone from your life forever.”

Sarah listened and pondered the weirdness and then the reality of the secret. It could have been worse. So she decided at age 26 that her prospects were zero. She didn’t want to be a pathetic old maid to be pitied by others. She didn’t want to be married to a pompous ass or a man who didn’t understand her mind. It would mean a life of adventure and passion and risks. She was willing to do that. What did she have to lose?

Moth

Thinking back on those days Sarah had to smile. She was planning a special anniversary dinner. She and Sebastian would be celebrating their 200th wedding anniversary. What a special time November 1814 was for them! For you see, Sebastian was a Vampire. But I’m sure you’d already guessed that.

And yes, they did live happily ever after.

 

~ End

butterfly-clipart

First published in 2014.

I’m on the road right now but will be back soon with exciting new REAL LIFE adventures about life, traveling with adult children, art, beauty, parenting, history, love, vampires, and whatever else I happen to experience or observe. xoxo

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Short Story Sunday: The Travelers – A Christmas Tale of Mystery, Love and Hope

The Travelers

A Christmas Story from Juliette Kings

The night was falling on the travelers, Daniel and his son Tad and daughter Ada. They had to stop before the nightfall and freezing snowfalls. They were finally going home from the dreams of gold to the city where Daniel had found a job in his profession of typesetter and reporter. When his wife had passed on he followed his dream to the California gold fields taking his teenage children with him.

They came upon a cabin, the door boarded up from the outside, the windows shuttered. It looked deserted and like shelter for the night. Dan and his son pried the nails off of the boards, which secured the door and went into the two-room structure. Inside was a cozy room with a fireplace, comfortable chairs and a wall full of books. Dan sent Tad out to bring in firewood.

Ada went to the bedroom and called her father. On the bed was a man, still as the night, cold and pale as the snow. In his arms, wrapped in blanket was a tiny girl in a red velvet hat, a scarf covered up most of her small face. She was also still and pale.

Ada’s heart sank. The poor souls in the bed looked to have passed on. But why were they trapped in the cabin? Had they been sick? Why were they not buried with a prayer and the proper respect? The man’s coat was obviously expensive and of the finest materials. His boots were of the most beautiful leather and style.  His face was handsome and refined. Ada took off her glove and touched the back of her hand to the man’s face. He was indeed cold as ice and still as death. She called in her father.

“I know this man.” He said. “A fine man. A poet. I heard him read when I was in San Francisco. What a tragic pity to find him here with his child.”

The looked upon the bodies of the father and child when they saw the slightest movement and the man opened his eyes.

“My daughter, please help her,” whispered the man on the bed.

Ada took the girl in her arms.  She weighed almost nothing. The child let out a sigh. Ada brought the girl into the other room and sat in a rocking chair by the fire Tad had built. The girl started to move and put her face against Ada’s warm neck. Ada soon fell asleep with dreams of flowers and all things good.

In the morning the poet and child were gone.

The travelers found box covered with red paper. In the box was a golden heart and a note to Ada.

Dearest Ada,

This heart belonged to my dear wife who was murdered by villains of the vilest kind. Please wear it knowing that you will always be loved and you will always be a part of us.

TK

On the table in the front room was a bounty of food. Where had it come from? There were fresh baked goods, milk and juice, exotic fruits, sausages and chocolates. Under small quilted cozies were pots with fragrant tea and coffee.

Daniel read the note aloud to his children.

My heart thanks you for your generosity.

You saved our lives.

You never questioned who had trapped us or hurt us.

You never judged us.

You never feared us.

The love between parent and his children is burned into your heart like the fires that burn in the heavenly stars.

My daughter and I will never forget you.

Your children and their children and their children will always be safe and watched over and kept from the harm of wicked men. I owe and promise you that.

Never fear the night or the darkness for we will always be watching your back.

Wishing you a Happy Christmas.

~ Thomas Kent

As the travelers ate they compared notes about sweet dreams that night along with stiff necks. They spoke of Mr. Kent and his precious daughter and wondered why they’d been trapped in the cabin.

Many many years later after a long and wonderful life full of romance and adventure, Ada fingered the heart, which she still wore. As she took her last breath she said, “I have never known fear, only love”.

An ocean away Thomas Kent felt an icy wind then hope and gratitude in his cold Vampire heart.

night with moon

Note from the author: This is the third time I’ve posted this story that is so dear to my heart. I hope you enjoyed it.  ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

More from Short Story Sunday

Short Story Sunday is a regular feature on Vampiremaman.com.
Expect the unexpected … and a lot of fun! Click on the title to go to the story.

Dark Politics – A Short Story

A short story I wrote for this political season…

 

Dark Politics

by Juliette Kings aka Vampire Maman

 

 I’d dined with The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, alone. It had been a private affair with only the two of us. I’d acquired signatures, state secrets, just the right amount of English blood, and enough charm to last me a while. He came away from it feeling quite satisfied with himself, though a little pale.

Heading to my private quarters I was stopped cold in my tracks. There he was, at the end of the hall.

“Well, this is random.” I said to the familiar apparition.

“I have been waiting for you madam.”

“I never imagined you’d stoop so low as to be a ghost.”

He smiled. “I never imagined you’d stoop so low as to be president.”

I smiled back. “The first woman president. I bet you never thought you’d see that in your lifetime.”

“I’m dead my dear. Remember?” He laughed in a cold manner that made my breath turn to a cloud before my face. “I loved you.” He whispered.

“You used me.”

“You used me as well Madam.”

“So I did. But times have changed Mr. President.”

The ghost smiled and came close. “You amaze me Madam.  Never has there been a president so popular or successful. The economy is good. Unemployment is below 2%. We’re not in a war and our schools working. How do you manage it?”

I shrugged. “I love the American people. I love my country.”

The ghost laughed. “You don’t have to campaign with me dear.”

I had to smile. At one time we’d been so close. “Why did it take so long for you to show yourself?” I asked.

“The White House isn’t my usual haunt. If I’d known you’d be wearing that dress I would have come back sooner.”

“I’m not even wearing a corset.”

“Or a bustle. That is one reason I never gave women the vote, you do know that. Damned bustles looked so silly. Who could take a creature who wears one of those things seriously?”

A song blasted from my hand. The ghost looked startled. “My daughter just texted me.” I held up my phone. She was just down the hall but I’d promised I’d check in before I went to bed.

“How is she doing since…I’m so sorry.”

“She’s doing ok. Some days are hard, especially holidays and special events.” My husband had passed away during my first term of an unexpected illness. I would never admit it out loud but grief, combined with my dedication to the job, shot my ratings in the polls up to 97.4%.

I looked fondly upon my ghostly friend, a great man who was rarely remembered. One of the many forgotten 19th century presidents.  Just so many men with beards. What a shame.

“I wish I could hold you.” I said, remembering a time long ago when that was possible.

“I should have asked you turn me when you had a chance.” He said, standing so close I could feel him but not touch him.

Passing my hand through his heart I told him the truth. “You made a good president but you would have been a horrible vampire sir.”

“I suppose you’re right. Good night my dear”, he said with a gentle smile. “Be careful.”

I smiled. “I will, my darling. I will.”