Short Story Sunday: A Light In The Shadows

A Light In The Shadows

From the Journals of Oscar Ambrose

August 1, 1889

An angel came into my life today upon a cloud of pink bows, with ruby lips and chestnut curls. Her laugh is like tiny musical bells. Her eyes sparkle in the candlelight with joy that lights up the dark night sky.

August 5, 1889

We walked tonight along the parkway, her arm in mine. She has the knowledge of the ages, but the lighthearted composure of a young girl.

With any other woman I would have thought she was brazen and forward, but when she kissed me I felt as though the heavens would open up and swallow us in light.

August 8, 1889

Tonight we attended the Opera. She scanned the audience and smiled after waving to a friend.  In her blue gown and pearls she was a rare flower in a sea of withering beauties. I am undone by her.

I declared my love tonight.  Another kiss, but it was that of a woman’s passion and not that of a young innocent girl. We consummated our love in a fury of desire. Then I found myself alone, feeling weak, my neck ached and my head spun. Yet, I have never felt so good in all my life.

September 8, 1889

Today when I saw her it was as if she had put me in a trance. Ahhhh, another night of passion.

September 10, 1889

She laughs at the drop of a pin. It never takes much to amuse her. She told me she couldn’t be serious all the time. Her brother Valentine is much the same. He watches over her and I believe he knows but says nothing. I love her and like him tremendously but I wonder how he could be so dispassionate knowing how I use his sister. It is a guilt I am willing to live with.

September 11, 1889

I asked her to be my wife. I expected a resounding yes. I am wealthy and can give her any material comfort she wishes. My social connections are outstanding. My passion can match hers. She stroked my face with her hand and told me how handsome I am and how kind.  The answer was no. My heart fell into darkness.

September 12, 1889

Two men came to my door asking if I knew Juliette. I was shocked to see them, dressed in long black coats with weapons at their sides. They told me such news that I could hardly believe them and almost ordered them out of my sight.

They said she was a demon from the depths of hell. They said I should take her to my bed one last time and then plunge a knife into her heart and cut off her head.

What Hell is this that they spoke of? They called her a Vampire. My angel.

September 13, 1889

I confronted her tonight. She stood in her dress decorated in pink and yellow roses. Her milk white shoulders waiting to be touched and her red lips waiting to be kissed. I thought she would cry at such horrible accusations. She only said “Don’t speak with those men again or I will leave your life forever.”

“Are you a creature from Hell?” I asked her.

She said “I am a child of darkness but I carry no evil in me. Do you not feel comfort and well being after you’re with me? Do you not feel safe? I will always keep you safe. I will always keep those who would harm you away. I will do that for you and for your family, if you promise not to speak of this again.”

September 17, 1943

After I married she never came back, but my children and their children had charmed lives with miraculous happenings. My dear wife expressed the same thoughts. From time to time I think I see my Juliette in the shadows and hear her laugh, and then chills go down my spine and I can’t help but smile.

~ Oscar Ambrose

Note from Juliette 9/17/2013: He was so sweet. I put down the journal and stroked the cat curled next to me. The sweet cat I named after the sweet man. My brother and I still watch over his family and keep them out of harm’s way. It is the least I can do.

Age and Memory

I had a visitor this week. My brother Val and my dear ancient Tellias decided to go backpacking and dropped Eleora off to stay with me.

Tellias and Eleora are ancient. They look young but they’re extremely old. Nobody knew exactly how old Eleora is. The date changed over the years.

She was like the actress who had been born in 1948 but by the time she died Wikipedia listed her year of birth as 1959.  As an aging sex symbol who had a long productive career with no leading roles nobody seemed to notice when she retired to her Long Beach cottage with her tribe of small dogs and assorted cats.

Her body was found by her son who was a product of the third of her five marriages. He hadn’t heard from his mother in a week so he went to check on her. 

Hermes the black Manx cat was sitting on the front porch wearing the platinum and diamond tennis bracelet her fourth husband had given her after she kicked him out for cheating on her with a local state congresswoman.  Hermes was frantically meowing to get in. On the porch was a dry water bowl and several packages from Fed-X and Amazon.

Inside he found his mother on the couch looking like she’d fallen asleep. The TV was still on. She’d been dead for three days. A bottle of high-end boutique vodka was on the table along with a small bowl of assorted opiate based painkillers. One the mantel next to the urn containing his elder sister’s ashes (from the first marriage) was a tiny bundle containing the remains of his mother’s last dog. It was a tiny teacup poodle names Chester, whom she always had dyed purple. On the table next to the vodka bottle was the receipt from the vet for the euthanasia services was from three days ago. 

That meant Hermes had been outside alone without food for way too long. He fed the cat and made some phone calls.

After he called his brother (2ndmarriage) and remaining sister (4thmarriage) he called his father. Growing up he’d lived mostly with his dad but had still been close to his compulsive party girl mother.

He was thankful the cat had been outside and not left in to start eating his mother’s face. Horrible thoughts like that had always popped into his head at the most unfortunate times. He blamed that on his mother and her dramatic flair for the macabre. 

After the coroner left, he put Hermes and his sister’s ashes in the car and drove home. He wouldn’t be coming back. His siblings could take care of the estate. 

But I’m completely off subject. Nobody knew how hold Eleora really was. Well over 2,100 years but she was always vague. I think she doesn’t know and either doesn’t care or is just embarrassed she doesn’t have an exact date. Where she was born, and when she was born, nobody had calendars.  She never aged so age wasn’t a concern, until she met Tellias who came from the Roman Empire where people had a written language, a calendar and even running water.  

Eleora also wasn’t like the actress I mentioned, at least personality wise. She was a flirt, but she and Tellias had been together for two millenniums. They were faithful and steady, or at least as steady as two ancient Vampires could be.

When they dropped her off Eleora was wearing a big green sweater over an orange satin blouse, and a green and blue plaid wool skirt.

“What in the world are you wearing?” I had to ask.

“I’m not sure. It was in my closet,” she said.

“It’s supposed to be over 90 today.”

She just looked at me then looked away not saying anything. I checked in her bag. Inside was a large pink sweatshirt, a lace party dress from eons ago, and a worn out house robe, and a pair of rubber rain boots. I didn’t even ask who packed for her.

An odor like rotted flesh with a sharp metallic after smell invaded my nose. Oh my God it was Eleora.

“When was the last time you took a shower? You smell like death.”

“I don’t smell anything,” she said. 

She’d tied her hair, which was dirty, up on top of her head with a green ribbon.

“You smell like a Shadow Creeper. Damn it Eleora, you don’t live in a crypt or under the floorboards of some abandoned house.  Let’s go up and get you in the shower.”

Like many seniors she has lost interest in personal hygiene or just doesn’t notice anymore. Time, especially in 2020, doesn’t matter. 

It is bad enough with most people who don’t take care of themselves, but it can be especially bad with an old Vampire. 

I reminded her to wash her hair with shampoo and not just put on conditioner. I also gave her a new bar of lavender soap and a washcloth.  She is about the same size as my daughter so I found a sundress in Clara’s closet that she’d left on her last visit and a light sweater out of my closet. Eleora won’t wear pants so our choices were limited. 

After the shower I fixed her a smoothie made of almond milk, blood, a bit of peanut butter and a tablespoon of nutritional yeast. 

Eleora looked pretty in the flowered sundress. She might be ancient but she and Tellias look like college students, but act like really old people. 

I had to attend several Zoom meetings, but Eleora didn’t understand I wasn’t going anywhere. Thank goodness for the mute buttons for sound and video.  

“I’ll just stay here with the dog while you go to your meeting. Get me a cup of coffee before you go.”

“I’m not leaving,” I said, “the meeting is here, on my computer, like when we talked to Clara earlier.”

“Get me a glass of water too. Turn on that show I’ve been watching.”

“What is it called?”

“I don’t know.”

“What is it about?”

“It’s a Western.”

“OK. That narrows it down. You don’t remember the name?”

We went through the line ups with all of the on demand stations, Prime and Netflix. We finally turned on Cheyenne. That was good for an hour. 

Today Eleora wasn’t interested in reading. We went out on the deck and she talked about when she and Tellias went to a play followed by a public hanging. That was sometime in the 15thCentury. She didn’t remember much except that a dog walked up on the stage during the play. The man was being hanged for murdering his entire family. Then she told me about how they came to America on a big ship, which really wasn’t that big by today’s standards. It was awful due to the rats but Tellias sang to them and got them to invade the quarters of the first officer who apparently was a real prick.  

After that she couldn’t remember or understand much of anything and took a long nap.  When she woke up she’d sing me a song and ask when Tellias was going to come pick her up.

The next few days were much the same. 

Then she asked when she would be able to go home. She was done with me.  I’d hold her hand and tell her about my garden and my children. If I was able to I’d make her laugh. I’d get a smile out of her and she’d seem to be happy for a bit. 

When Val and Tellias finally came back Eleora was quick to pack up and leave. 

I remember when Eleora and I used to have adventures together. I remember when we’d be so busy doing things that we’d forget the passing of time. I remember when she could remember. 

Even when we forget we always remember to love. The memories and synaspes are gone but the love is still there.

My thoughts today go out to all of the caretakers. It goes to those who forget. It goes to those who remember and treasure those memories. It goes out to all of those who love unconditionally.

  • Stay safe
  • Wear a mask
  • Be kind
  • Check on those who are elderly, alone, or need extra help and support
  • Talk to your kids
  • Hug your dogs and cats
  • Kiss a Vampire
  • And be kind to yourself.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vlad’s Vampire Diary: Smoke Gets In My Eyes (Fires, Gender Reveals, and Reveries of a Vampire King)

Dear Diary,

The sky is red with smoke and fire. There is a demon wind blowing as if it wants to take the roof off of the house.

“There are too many fires,” I told my friend Randolpho. “It is like Hell has come up from the bowels of the Earth.”

“This is 2020. Welcome to the new normal. I hear there is a big fire by the airport and on some of the river levies. Add those to the fires already going on including that fire started by those fools having a gender reveal party.”

“Gender reveal party?” I asked. “What do you mean by gender reveal and why is there a party?”

“Before babies are born some people get overly excited and throw a gender reveal party. You know, to announce if they are having a boy or a girl.”

“That is ridiculous. How do they know if it is a boy or a girl? Even a witch will not be able to tell you that with a hundred percent certainty.”

“Ultra sound, or amnio. Oh my God. You don’t know about those things. Let me show you.”

Randolpho pulled out his phone and went on the Internet, where almost all information can be found. 

“Ultra sound is a way to see a baby before it is born to make sure it is developing right. ”

I looked at a photo of a tiny human being. There was a face and this one was obviously male. 

“But how is this done? The baby is inside of the mother. It would die if they cut her open.”

“They don’t cut her open. Get a clue Vlad. The technician takes sort a wand and rubs it over the mother’s pregnant belly. Then an image of the baby appears on a computer screen. Then the image can be printed out.

“This is amazing. If I had not seen it for myself I would not have believed it. Then what is amnio?”

“Amniocentesis is a procedure in which amniotic fluid is removed from the uterus for testing or treatment. Amniotic fluid is the fluid that surrounds and protects a baby during pregnancy. 

A large needle is inserted into the mother amniotic fluid around the baby is extracted. One can tell then not only the gender but if there are any genetic issues the parents should be aware of.”

“Genetic issues?”

“For example if a child will have Down’s Syndrome.”

“What is that?”

“Remember Maria? The small girl who liked to wear crowns of flowers and always had a song and a smile. She had Down’s Syndrome.”

I remembered the young Vampire maiden. She was one of my mother’s ladies. Once a cocky young Vampire called Vink called Maria an idiot and belittled her in front of the entire Vampire court because she did not understand his stories. He thought the stories were humorous. They were not.

My mother had Vink thrown into the dungeon for a week for his meanness. 

Even being a Vampire Maria passed on the next winter. We were all sad. Everyone loved Maria. Vink continued to be a fool and was banished from the court.

“Now there are people like Maria who graduate from High School and some even graduate from college.”

I thought about this for a while. There is so much I need to learn.

“Do you ever want to have kids Vlad?” Randolpho asked. I thought that was odd. We have known each other for over 670 years and we have never discussed it.

The subject made me feel somewhat uncomfortable.  I told Randolpho he needed to change the subject.

Later I tried to sleep but could only think of babies crying and keeping me awake. I thought about a baby laughing and broke out in a cold sweat, then coughed from the smoke. 

~ Vlad

Dear Diary,

The smoke is thicker today. My mind is still on children. I am in Hell.

I poured a glass of chilled blood and put a piece of fresh mint on top of it. Mint is something we did not have when I was Vampire King. After being locked in a crypt for three hundred years I have discovered many new things such as mint, chilled drinks, and viewing babies inside of their mothers. I might have missed the 18th, 19th, and 20thCenturies, but here I am in 2020.

Once when I was much younger, when I was Vampire King I went on a journey to being a group of young orphan Vampire children back to my castle. My wife had just abandoned me and I had the need to, what term do they use so often now, get away. I had to get away.

After riding for a week with some of my finest Vampire soldiers, I met my contact at an ancient castle by the edge of a large lake. The Vampire in charge approached me. He was slightly taller than I am, making him around six feet tall. His appearance was striking, not just because of his height but also because of his fashion. He was dressed all in black with dark glossy brown hair about his shoulders. He wore no wig as many men did at that time but like me, he wore his own hair. His eyes were deep golden brown surrounded by thick lashes, and a face spotted with light facial hair on his jaw line and a hint of a mustache growing in. His clothing and boots were all black except for a purple sash around his waist and a green feather in his hat. 

He introduced himself as Toby Rose, the Captain of the group, and the Captain of the ship that had brought the children from England. I immediately liked him. 

Toby Rose spoke the old Vampire language with an English accent. The women at the castle thought he was charming. Their attentions lingered more on him that on me – which was something new for I was always the one woman kept their eyes on.

Later as we walked along the edge of the lake Toby told me he had heard my wife had left. We looked towards the castle and saw a group of women walking along the road. 

“They are beautiful,” said Toby Rose.

“Yes, they are,” I replied. They were beautiful but I was not in mood for strange women.

“I love women. I love the way they feel with their warm skin, and soft lips. I love knowing how easy it is for me to please them. The are always surprised by me in the best of ways. I also love men. I do believe I love being with a man the best. I love their strong arms, and the way a man moves and smells. I love the feel of a chest covered with hair, and the brush of stubble on my neck when he kisses me.” Then he laughed a low quiet laugh. “I love to feel their stubble everywhere if you know what I mean.”

Toby Rose was quite forward. I was curious and asked him, “When did you know you desired both men and women.”

“I have always liked everyone,” he said with a laugh. “My father always told me you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. He was a wise man, my father was.” 

I was somewhat surprised Toby Rose was so open with me in a time when those who expressed their sexuality so openly were often hung or burned alive. On the other hand we were Vampires, open to all desires and all ways of life. We rarely judged.

In fact, when my sister was born a cousin mocked my parents because my mother had given birth to a girl. We had no gender reveal at the time. My father became angry, pinned his cousin down and cut one of his balls off. Then he put it into a jar and placed it in my sister’s nursery. 

“Now my daughter has as many balls as you do,” my father said to his cousin.

My father would do things like that. I did not tell Toby Rose about that memory.

As we walked along the riverbank we spoke of the children we had rescued. We spoke of our lives and what we wanted. Toby gave me gentle words about the departure of my cheating whore of a wife, which made me feel better.

“You hungry?” Toby Rose asked.

So we went for a hunt. After we were full of warm blood and the thrill of hunting together we joined the rest of our party along with our hosts in the castle.

Everyone spoke of Toby Rose. All of the women wanted him. All of the men wanted to be like him. He was a fierce fighter, and a lover who never shared secrets. He was a leader. He was a mentor and a teacher. Toby Rose was an amazing man and an amazing Vampire.

I noticed women, as always would look at me with longing, but they boldly approached Toby Rose to let him know that they wanted him to come to them later.

Later as I was alone in my chamber, getting ready to retire, there was a knock on my door. I opened it and let in Toby Rose, who was wearing nothing but an oversized robe.

“I want you Vlad,” Toby Rose whispered, as he put his hand on my hip and stepped close.

“Toby, I am not ready for this. I do not know if I will ever be ready,” I told him.

Toby Rose kissed my neck scraping fangs across it making me close my eyes and wonder what indeed was happening. Then Toby Rose took my hand and put it under his robe. “I’m ready. I have never been more ready.”

“Toby Rose!” I said.

Toby Rose’s robe dropped to the ground and I found out that Toby Rose was a woman.

I have to admit it was one of the best nights of my life.

That is my gender reveal story.

About a year ago I tried to find out what happened to Toby Rose. Nobody knows. She might be an old Vampire content living a quiet life. She might be dead. Or she might be locked in a crypt somewhere, a prisoner of the dark. I do not know.

~ Vlad

Dear Diary,

My love Gillian is now sleeping in my bed as I write this.  I have never told her of Toby Rose, or about any of my other lovers, nor has she told me about hers.

Even after hundreds of years some things never change. Like all self respecting Vampires we never kiss and tell.

~ Vlad

This has been the 63rd installment of Vlad’s Vampire Diary. To read all of them, or find your favorites again CLICK HERE, or check out the right sidebar.

Short Story Sunday: Dream a Little Dream

Damn. What a night. Fighting demons and their fucking friends. Max rarely even thought of using four letter words but tonight was a swear night. Even as an alpha Vampire to top all alpha Vampires he was exhausted, and away from home.

The only saving grace was that he’d been not far from his fiancé’s house by the beach. He looked forward to falling asleep in her arms to the sound of the waves.

She wasn’t home. Damn. He let himself in as the sun started to light up the morning sky. 5:00 a.m. Where was she?

Max stripped off his clothing and threw it into the washing machine. Then he fell onto her bed. Damn it felt good. She said she’d gotten new bedding but this was amazing. He never understood Vampires who slept in coffins and crypts.

Falling into a deep sleep the dreams came in waves…

“I’m smarter than everyone in this room. They’re all idiots,” said Archibald Fontaine.

What is that blow hard doing here? Thought Max. He couldn’t stand the pompous ass. Archi was the last Vampire he’d want in his dreams.

Then Archibald Fontaine leaned forward and kissed Max on the mouth.

Max backed off. “It is over Archi.”

Then he was jolted into a dark passageway. Sadness overwhelmed him. He had never felt so alone. A cat started to follow him, then two, then three, then five.

The dream jumped to another location. This time a house. His house. She lay on his bed in silk tap pants and a silk bra, both in pale pink. He kissed her neck and brushed it with his fangs. He wanted to tell her that he loved her but he didn’t. Or did she want to tell him?

He was at a party. It was the 1916. He heard her voice I haven’t thought about him in years.It was a lie. She thought about him all the time. A wolf howled in the distance. It was a Werewolf.

He sat on a chair pulling off the silk stockings he’d worn the night before. Red peep toe shoes were on the floor in front of him along with a flowered dress.

Max had never worn a dress. Not even on Halloween.

Max opened his eyes and looked into his own face next to him in bed. His eyes were brown, then the color turned to hazel, then back to brown. He smiled at himself and pulled himself close in an embrace.

Then he woke in a jolt. This was too weird. What had those demons done?

Mehitabel stood by the bed. “Hey baby.”

“Hey,” said Max.

He reached out his hand to her. She sat on the edge of the bed and gently kissed him.

“The new bedding is nice. Love the pillows. But oh man, I’m having weird dreams.”

She smiled and stroked his hair. “Memory foam,” she said.

“What?”

“Memory foam. You’re sleeping on my pillow silly.”

Then she undressed and got into bed beside him, but not before she gave him his own pillow.

~ end

Poetry, Ghosts, and Vampires

He told me that he loved

The warm breeze on his face

The smell of pine trees

And water on granite

The sounds of nothing but the woods.

Then he vanished

Never to be seen by me again.

He was my best friend,

Falling 

Then gone.

Now I am the Ghost and he is gone to me.

——————-

The Ghost gave me a little bit of a smile with a cold chill that went with it. “I like how you wrote that down for me, all poetic like. You know, my story and your simple words.. You have a talent of making a complicated story simple in sort of a bad free verse way. I like it. The fact that you’re a Vampire doesn’t even figure into it.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment Nigel.” I told my Ghost.

When one lives in the presence of a Ghost you do things for each other, like write down verse and banter about life and death and more so the in-between areas where we exist.

“I’ve really missed him,” said Nigel.

“I know,” I told him, “I know.”

We talked of the woods, rock climbing, long-lost friends, and of course what we’re doing for Halloween. Just like normal folks, then again, this is normal… at least for me. You know, poetry, Ghosts and Vampires.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

First posted here in 2014

A Little Bit of Mystery

Right before the lockdown I was visiting with my Uncle Rico in Laguna Beach. While there I met an interesting house guest.

He said his name was Fred. He was tall with auburn hair and ears that stuck out a bit more than normal. He was THAT Fred.

When his plane crashed he wasn’t surprised. When a small boat picked him up he was more than surprised. Fred had fully expected to drown or be eaten by sharks. His injuries would kill him. He knew it. His rescuers didn’t speak English but after God only knows how long they brought him to an island where there was someone who did.

He was asked, “Do you want to live forever and be part of one of the greatest mysteries on Earth, or do you want to die and be part of one of the greatest mysteries on Earth?”

“What’s the catch?” Fred asked.

Fred said his new English speaking friend smiled in that way people do when they’re about to drop a bomb on you.”

“I watched her die,” Fred continued. “It took me years to stop thinking about it every single day. They’ll never find her body. Come to think of it they’ll never find mine.”

He smiled in a sad sort of way. “That was a long time ago. It doesn’t have to define who I am now.”

I thought about this because I was thinking about my kids in these weird times. There will be unexpected choices. Things won’t always be in their control. It is how we react that matters. It is how we learn from our experiences that matter.

Of course it is always a good thing to have a little bit of mystery. Uncle Rico and I come by it naturally because, as you know, we’re Vampires, but a little mystery is something everyone should have.

You don’t have to be an open book. Rather be a page turner with a good twist or a cliffhanger.

I’ll have to admit it was a good thing Rico was on that Island way out in the Pacific Ocean way back in 1937.

That’s all.

  • Wear a mask
  • Hug your dog
  • Talk to your kids
  • Stay safe
  • Check in on those who might need extra help or might be lonely
  • Don’t be a dick
  • Kiss a Vampire
  • Turn off the news and turn on some music

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman