Short Story Sunday: Night Call

Max pulled off his shirt and looked in the mirror.

“Damn,” he said to himself.

It wasn’t that he was incredibly good looking, which he was. It wasn’t the defined six pack and the perfect pecs, or even the amazing biceps, or the sexy forearms, or even the perfect broad shoulders.

It was the deep scratches, ugly bites, and large scrapes. There were also a couple of shallow stab wounds. All were either circled in red, or a putrid green.

He’d gone to what he thought was a typical call to help out some pretty clueless and helpless overly Gothic Vampires, and ended up in a nightmare.

The two Gothic Vampires were sitting in his living room watching “Long Shot” on Netflix, and drinking wine laced with Poet’s Blood.

Max looked in the mirror at his teeth. Thank goodness nobody had hit him in the mouth. He couldn’t risk losing a fang. Fangs took forever to grow back, not to mention the excruciating pain of it all.

What Max thought would be a routine call ended up being a three hour ordeal with not only Vampire Hunters but with a couple of random Demons who were lurking around for left overs.

After taking a shower and putting salve on his wounds, Max put on a soft sweatshirt and went to see his guests.

A small woman dressed in black lace, and a slim young looking man with long dark hair and a velvet jacket, sat close to each other on his couch.

They thanked Max for saving him. They were good kids, only about fifty years old. He was glad to have saved them from evil.

“I’ll send a security crew out to your home to make sure you have a good video system in and the right kind of locks and alarms. I also know a Witch who can do some spells to help. I know, you might not like Witches but the one I know does low level spells to give Vampire Hunters painful hives and blindness if they try to enter your home. It works like a charm.”

Max sat down and poured himself some wine, minus the blood.

Then they all watched Shitt$ Creek and laughed, knowing that tomorrow would be a new night, and that they were safe… at least for now.

~ end

Stay safe. Get your shots. Wear a mask. Be kind. Don’t be a dick. Check in on those who are alone or might need extra help. Talk to your kids. Hug a dog. And kiss a Vampire (you’ll thank me for it later.)

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: The Box In Dave’s Basement

“I was just going out for coffee,” said Austin as he looked at the carnage surrounding him.

Coffee with the crossword puzzle, and a little bit of fresh air sounded good. Then Dave, who lived three houses down called to him as he waked by, “Hey, Austin, there’s something weird in my basement. Take a look.”

Austin was both a history professor and a general contractor specializing in historic restorations, so of course he’d check it out. Dave lived in the oldest house on that street, built in 1888. It was a fantastic small Queen Anne, painted shades of blue and cream.  Dave led the way to the back of the dark space to an oblong box.

“I was measuring the room and moved away some lumber that had been here since I moved in and found this,” said Dave. “It looks like a coffin. Do you think I should call someone?”

“Let me take a look. I’ve found these before,” said Austin, taking out his penknife. He slid the knife around the edges of the box to see if there was a latch or any loose spots.

Then all Hell broke loose. Two men, dressed in long black coats, carrying guns and large knives appeared at the door.

“Hey,” yelled Dave. “Get the fuck outta here. I told you guys to stay away from my house. I’m calling 911. I warned you.” Then he turned to Austin. “The bastards were out last week. I told them…”

The men moved closer. Dave continued, “Out NOW.” Dave was a medium sized silver haired average family guy his mid fifties, with some sort of upper management job with the Department of Water Resources. His wife was wife away on a girl’s weekend. His kids were away at college. He’d been working on making the basement into the ultimate man cave over the past few weekends. He wasn’t in the mood for Vampire Hunters.

“Damn it. I said GET OUT you crazies,” Dave yelled.

“Just let us have the box,” said one of the men, a tall shaggy haired guy with some sort of unidentifiable accent.

Austin took a step forward, getting between Dave and the vampire hunters. “No can do guys. You have to go.”

The other man, a bald guy with huge shoulders pointed a gun at Austin and Dave. “Move aside gentlemen.” He then shoved them out of the way and with a swift kick popped open the box.

Inside was the perfectly preserved body of a woman in an old fashioned lace dress. She looked as though she was made of fine leather. A bunch of dried roses were in her hand.

The shaggy haired man lifted a huge wooden stake. Dave and Austin both yelled, “NO.”

Dave jumped on the back of the bald man. Austin knocked the shaggy haired man out of the way.

Suddenly a blinding flash of light and a blast of cold air knocked them to the wall. Two more men appeared at the door, also in black but without the coats. One carried a knife, and the other a whip. The smiled, showing fangs.

“Holy shit,” whispered Dave.

The vampires grabbed the men in the black coats by the scruff of their necks, like small children, and threw them back out into the sunlight. One of the vampires uttered a string of long strange sounding words, and the vampire hunters ran down the street.

The woman in the coffin sat up, and moved her head around.

“Stiff neck?” Austin asked.

She looked at him, surprised. Then she smiled with a slight show of her own fangs. “Yes, thanks for the concern. How long did I sleep?”

“From the looks of your dress, maybe ninety years,” said Austin.

“I guess I missed that party then,” she said with a slight laugh.

“This is too weird,” said Dave as he got up, and crossed the room. He turned on the overhead shop lights and got a good look at his company. “You mean to tell me you’ve been in that box for ninety years?”

The woman just blinked against the light. The two Vampires stood out of the shadows.

“Hey, Austin,” said one of them. “I thought that was you.”

“Pierce,” said Austin. “I had no idea you were a vampire. Small world. Dave, this is Pierce, he guest lectures for me sometimes on nineteenth California government issues.”

“And this is Max, he…”

“Max,” said Austin as he held out his hand. “Good to see you. Thanks for helping out.”

“Austin,” said Max.

Dave looked at the Vampires then laughed. “Pierce. I know you. You were teaching American History at UC Berkley in the late 70’s. I took a couple of classes from you. You look like you haven’t aged a day. How old are you?”

Pierce smiled and shook Dave’s hand. “I’m 171, but who’s counting.”

“I was just going out for coffee,” said Austin as he looked at the carnage surrounding him. “You’re all welcome to come.”

The woman’s name is Lily. She had a lot of catching up to do so Dave gave her a pair of jeans and a shirt out of his wife’s closet, and they all headed out for coffee.

That’s all.

~ end

First published here in 2016

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Desert Winds

On the edge of the Sandia Mountains, My friends Amelia her husband Raul and I drove down the gravel road to the home of Ximena, an ancient woman who mostly lived in solitude with the company of the birds and the wind.

Ximena’s home was a large old adobe structure rimmed with bells and bushes of purple flowers. She greeted us at the door, as always wearing a long colorful skirt. Her black hair flowed down her back almost to her knees. Dark eyes smiled at us in a welcome greeting, as did her fangs. She is almost as ancient as Tellias and Eleora, and like them Ximena looks like a young college girl.

We came into the main room. Walls lined with books and crystals flanked part of the room with windows on the other side looking towards the mountains. We could smell the dried chiles rastas hanging in the kitchen. A red shouldered hawk perched on a wooden chair. It called out when it saw us.

“Maria, you still sing so sweetly,” I said to the bird. She gave me a cold stair then allowed me to pet her feathered head.

Maria the hawk had been around since I was a young woman, more than a hundred years. I wondered at times how she could live so long, then I stopped wondering and chalked it up to magic, love or pure mystery. It is what it is. That is how things work here in the land of magic.

A youngish man with dark hair and eyes like Ximena, but pale skin, came into the room. He was introduced to us as Kyle. But he wasn’t like us. I could feel his warmth as soon as he walked into the room.

Kyle was a man of many talents. He was a photographer, a teacher, a writer, an engineer and apparently a lover. After talking over wine and a light diner we also discovered Ximena’s young friend was also extremely opened minded.

He was also a young widow. One night left him alone with his dreams dead, but he kept going and kept at least a portion of the dreams and spark alive.

While Raul, Amelia and Ximena went to a back room to examine some old maps or something, Kyle and I went out to the porch. Bats flew about as the sounds of the bells filled the air.

Kyle asks me about my husband Teddy. I smiled shyly and told him how we’d met as kids and fallen in love a hundred years later. I think I’d always been in love with my husband on some level.

Then Kyle spoke of his lost love. “After Kayla, my wife, passed away everyone kept asking me if I’d go back. Over and over they’d ask the old what if question. You know, you can’t go back. I can’t bring her back. I will never forget her. She is part of me, but I live in the world of the living.”

“No ghost?” I had to ask (always thinking of obnoxious Nigel)

“Only a Vampire in the Southwest would ask that,” Kyle answered with a knowing smile.

“A Vampire anywhere would ask that. Don’t get me started on the ghosts I see all the time.”

“No ghost. Kayla moved on the night she died. That is a good thing.”

“Yes it is. You’re a wise man with a loving heart. In some circles that is a rare thing.”

He leaned against the rail. “I don’t know you except by reputation but I want to ask you a few thing, or at least see how you feel about a few things.”

“Okay,” I said.

“I’m in love with Ximena. I know what she is. I know how old she is. It doesn’t matter.”

I shrugged and laughed. “My 500 or so year old Grandmama is in love with a 35 year old. What are you, about 38?”

He smiled. I was correct. He was 38 and absolutely a delight – young, yet years ahead of most men his age.

“Dear Kyle, you also want me to tell you if I think it would be wise if you became a Vampire? Right?”

He smiled an uncomfortable hot blooded smile.

I said to him, “Kyle, you are in love with the cold wind under the moon and the sprint of night. She is an amazing being. I’ve always admired her. If you feel you can make a life out here with her then do it. But don’t lose yourself in her. Always be who you are, even after you become a Vampire. That is the only way it will work. If you try to be too much like her she will leave you, because she fell in love with you, not with herself.”

Raul and Ximena came out to join us with wine for Ryan and spiced blood for the rest of us.

Ximena whistled and Maria the red shouldered hawk came and landed on a table next to her hand. Ximena gave the bird a piece of meat she took from a bag in her pocket.

Into the night we talked until the sun came up and created unbelievably beautiful light and shadows on the mountains.

I could hear the wind whispering to the lovers:

The light

in dark eyes

promises kept

forever and

again

in our hearts

we love

we laugh

and we learn

to do it 

all

over 

again.

~ 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

 
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

First posted here in 2018 and still one of my favorites.

Short Story Sunday: Stumped

Stumped

I just got done removing a stump from the back yard and I’m sitting down to a beer and the game when the doorbell rings.

My wife is out shopping and the kids are off with friends. I’m enjoying a little quiet time, just me and the TV.

I answer the door, and there is a guy about my age standing there. He looks like he just came out of GQ Magazine with a jacket, perfect jeans, wearing shoes that costs as much as my house payment. His features are like an Italian Model or a Movie star, that sort of pretty but manly look that women go nuts over. His hair is perfect, thick and silver. He’s wearing a Rolex Submariner. Nice.

He gave me a pretty serious look then said, “I’m sleeping with your wife.”

All right, I wasn’t expecting that one. He then looked me up and down like he was waiting for me to beat the shit out of him. I’m a big guy. Not big and fat, but 6’4″ with a lot of gym time. I used to play football. This guy wasn’t small but I had a good five inches on him and maybe sixty pounds. He looked like a runner or one of those freaking guys who rides a bike in neon colored spandex shorts.

Honestly I should have beat the shit out of him, but that isn’t my style. I just went numb. Heather and I had been together for 20 years, married 17 of those years. We have two kids and a house and friends and … we were one of those perfect couples. You know, we laugh a lot and say the same thing at the same time. That sort of perfect. We hold hands and … I thought things were fine.

Sure she’d put on some weight and had a hard time dealing with her body image. Sure she was over worked with her job and the kids and with me. Sure she was stressed, but who isn’t? But… this handsome, obviously wealthy guy was standing here telling me that MY WIFE was sleeping with him.

He started talking about passion… her passion. Sure we had passion. That morning I’d almost been late for work because of her passion, our passion. But he got into details of fetish stuff he’d do with her and how he made her scream the way I never could. I had no idea she ever wanted any of that stuff. I sure didn’t want it.

Then, as I stood stunned, he talked about her beauty and how smart she was and how I could never ever appreciate her. He said the kids didn’t need her as much anymore, he said she loved him.

I could feel my body start to shake. My world was imploding around me. My throat was tight. I thought I was going to vomit on his expensive shoes. Finally I said something. “Does she know you’re here?”

Mr. GQ glared at me and said, “I’m taking her away to live the life she deserves.”

“Do you love Heather?” I asked. I had to know. I knew the answer but I wanted him to tell me.

His eyes opened as big as dinner plates. “Heather?”

“My wife,” I said.

“Your wife isn’t Allison?”

“Heather.” I grabbed the wedding photo off of the hutch in the front entryway and put it in his face. “Allison lives next door.”

“Uh, sorry. I’m so sorry.”

He didn’t go next door. He just got in his car and drove away. About 20 minutes later the front door opened and I heard a familiar voice, “Honey, I’m home. Did I miss anything?”

“No, just got the stump out and I’m watching the game. Hey, Heather, did I tell you that I think you’re beautiful?”

“Sure. Thanks for getting that stump out. Will you help me with the groceries?”

I follow her outside and she gives me a little smile, the kind she always does when she has something smart to say. “You know, you’re the only man I ever loved.”

I grab a couple of bags. “Good to know. Love you too.”

~ end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Uncle Bud’s House

Uncle Bud’s House

The whole Covid-19 pandemic thing hit my sister and I pretty hard. I was laid off from my job, my girlfriend kicked me out, and I moved back in with my parents. My sister Luna was finishing up her senior year in college online because nobody was allowed to take classed on campus. 

My name is Hawk, because, well, my parents are earthy crunchy organic well to do educated hippy types who didn’t want to conform to the norms when it came to putting traditional tags on their children. I’d started using my middle name Griffin, due to the fact that the name Hawk turned up in too many action and superhero movies and nobody took me seriously. I was tired of being asked if Hawk was my real name. It sucked.

Luna liked her name, which was good since her middle name was Gertrude, after Gertrude Stein.

One day in December, when I was trying to write a novel, and my sister was on break my parents suggested we get out of our rut and go stay on the coast in Uncle Bud’s house.

Uncle Bud’s house? That was new. Why hadn’t we ever heard of Uncle Bud’s house. Why hadn’t we heard that mom had inherited Uncle Bud’s house ten years ago? Mom just shrugged and said it slipped her mind. 

“It’s a beautiful place on the coast, surrounded by redwoods. I’ve been renting it out to vacationers in the summer. It’s a six hour drive but well worth it. The place is beautiful. Your Uncle Pete and I loved going there when we were kids. There’s beach access too.”

So to make a short story a little longer, two days later my parent’s packed us up with sage, healing crystals, homemade granola, oatmeal cookies, almond milk, and a key to the house.

On the way we stopped by a few wineries and picked up a couple of cases of really nice wine. In town a few miles from the house we got more groceries.

The house was beautiful. Again, we wondered why our parents never took us there. Once inside I set the crystals on the mantle, and Luna burned the sage to rid the place of any toxic vibes. I’d half expected a musty old place filled with dark old furniture. The place was contemporary and bright, all decorated in blues and yellow. I recognized the art on the wall as stuff my mom had painted when she was in high school. A few of the other paintings looked like my grandmother had painted them.

The phone worked. The Internet connection was strong. There was a drizzle of rain but no snow. Life was good.

That night as we were fixing spinach and lentil soup, we heard a noise coming from the back of the house. I looked down the hallway and saw a dark figure standing there.

“Oh my god,” said Luna. “Is that a nun?”

At the end of the hall stood a young woman in a black habit, her large brown eyes wide with fear. She screamed like someone in a horror movie, then vanished. Seriously, she vanished into thin air.

I looked at Luna. “What that a ghost?”

“I think so,” she whispered.

We burned more sage, finished making the soup, and opened a bottle of wine.

As we at dinner in the dining room we heard a sound in the kitchen. Someone was quietly singing. I didn’t recognize the song. 

Getting up to investigate was found a guy about my age standing by the kitchen sink. He was wearing jeans and a red flannel shirt. He looked over at me and smiled, then like the nun, he vanished.

“Holy shit,” said Luna. “How many other ghosts are in here?”

Despite the weirdness neither one of us were afraid. We could handle it.

Then there was a knock on the door. Just like in a horror movie. Maybe somebody had broken down and we’ll all be trapped together for the night. Maybe it would be some weird guy with a chain saw looking to collect more heads for his collection. Or maybe it would be our neighbors.

It was our neighbors. At the door were two people who introduced themselves as John and Mercy. They were brother and sister. Like us they were taking a break from Covid and school.

We shared our soup and the cornbread we’d made, and later a few more bottles of wine. John and Luna went for a moonlight walk on the beach while Mercy and I stayed inside.

“I’m sure you already saw Sister Antonia and Luke,” said Mercy.

She knew all about the ghosts. Apparently they’d been around for the past hundred years. Nobody knew who they were or where they came from. Mercy told me they were harmless. 

You know, I felt a sudden ease with Mercy. She said she graduated at UCLA. I told her I’d gone to UC Santa Barbara. We talked about the pandemic and tried to avoid politics. Then she kissed me, and I couldn’t stop kissing her back. 

The next morning I found myself alone with the other side of the bed cold. Mercy had left. So much for coffee in bed and another roll about.

Luna was downstairs making tea.

“Is Mercy still here?”

“She left. John?”

“Nope.”

“OK. Do you want breakfast?”

I scrambled up some tofu and made squash patties. Luna made blueberry muffins. 

“Hey, we have a bunch of muffins left. I’m bringing them over to Mercy and John.”

As we headed out the door was saw our neighbors in their front yard. They waved at us. I looked at Luna and sort of gave her a half laugh. It was cool. They weren’t too embarrassed to see us.

“You know Hawk, we’ve been here for three weeks and this is the first time we’ve been over here,” said Luna.

I knocked on the door. There was no answer. I knocked again. We walked around back to see if they were out there but there was nothing but a lone turkey vulture picking at a dead possum. 

“Mom would say that was a sign,” said Luna.

“Mom says everything is a sign,” I said.

The back door was cracked. I called inside, “John? Mercy? Hello?”

“Hawk. The kitchen is empty.”

Despite being brought up not to go where we haven’t been invited we went inside. The house was empty. I mean completely empty. Not a wine bottle, or a glass, or a beer can. Not a single stick of furniture, not a sleeping bag, no soap or shampoo in the bathrooms, or even toilet paper. The house was completely empty. We even checked the attic. It was empty.

“Well this is weird,” I said. 

“Son of a bitch,” said Luna. “They played us. I bet they’re over at our house right now stealing our computers.”

Nobody was at our house.

I called my mom and asked her if she knew anyone named John and Mercy.

“They lived next door. John was my summer boyfriend. Mercy was always flirting with your Uncle Pete.”

“Did either one of them have kids?”

“No, they’ve both died in 1977. John was going to UC Berkley and was hit by a car. Mercy was murdered by her boyfriend a few months later.”

“What did they look like.”

“Um, check the photo album on the bookshelf. There should be one marked 1976. We spent the entire summer there before we all went off to college.”

I thanked my mom but didn’t give her any details. 

That night we sat on our back deck sharing a bottle of wine and trying to digest the weirdness of the past few weeks. We sat without words for a while just listening to the frogs and crickets.

Luna tapped my arm. “Look,” she whispered.

Out in the yard was the nun, her head now bare, and her short hair adorned with a pink ribbon. She was in the arms of the man in the red plaid shirt. They slowly swayed to the sound of a song only they could hear. 

“I feel used,” I said.

“You think? Me too. If I’d had any idea, if mom and dad had any idea…,” said Luna.

“Do you think they’ll be back?”

“Fuck no. Their kind never come back. There is no way in Hell I’ll ever let any kids of mine come here, especially after they’re grown.”

The next morning we packed up my car and headed back to our parent’s house. Mom put the place on the market. It would sell quickly. Who wouldn’t want a beautiful Victorian house in the woods, close to town, and with beach access? 

Well, not Luna and me. 

~ end

Thank you for reading this short ghost story written with lightning fast speed over coffee this morning. For more ghosts, and far more interesting and true ghost stories do a search on this blog. You’ll thank me for it later. ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman