I guess you guys have noticed that I have been a bit hit or miss lately in this blog. Busy time of year with the family and the Poetry hasn’t been flowing like I like it to. Anyway, I thought I would fill in a few days of empty blogging by posting a few of my short stories that fit the holiday season. I know this is a departure from the normal blog activity, but I thought you might enjoy something a bit different and if you enjoy them feel free to support my self-published efforts by buying a couple of them. Might be a nice treat to fill up some of those new Kindles and E-Readers. Enjoy. Merry Christmas!
A short story about a Vampire who uses his riches and immortal skills to bring joy to those in need during the Christmas Season.
5 out of 5 stars: A deadly and dashing vampire
5 out of 5 stars: A great read
Talan Gawayn became a vampire in the 15th century on a cold, starry, full-moon night just after the first big snow of November. He was walking a less traveled path, on his way home from seeing his fiancé, whom he planned to marry the following spring, when three men stepped out of the shadows to rob him. He fought them at first, but they soon overpowered him, beat him ruthlessly, laughing as they did it, drunk and looking for someone to rob. They had found it in Talan who was so hopelessly in love he hadn’t seen them sneak up on him.
While he lay there in the snow dying from his injuries, one eye shut and swollen, the other able to see only a blurry vision, he thought he saw something, something moving quick and fast. The men who had beaten him were counting out their stolen money when this thing attacked them. It tore through their flesh, ripped out their throats savagely; and didn’t just drain the robbers of their precious blood, but this thing seemed to almost be bathing in it while it fed.
Talan tried to stay focused, tried to see what this thing was, but his will gave out and his good eye closed. He passed out into an injured slumber.
Something heavy was straddling him.
Talan strained to open his one good eye, but somehow he managed to do so. And with all of his might, he looked up into the face of a man who was now looking down at him. This man wore no coat and was dressed all in black. He had piercing blue eyes, black hair that hung to his waist, and skin so white it glowed in the moonlight. His face, mouth, and cheeks were covered in fresh blood.
“Bad night for a walk,” the man replied, smiling, revealing his blood stained fangs, wiping the dripping blood from his face.
Talan didn’t respond, as he coughed up blood and struggled to stay alive, shivering in the cold frozen snow, thinking of his fiancé and wondering why he had left so late.
“Here’s the thing. I’m going to feast on you, and it will kill you before your injuries do, which they will do very shortly no matter how hard you try to stay alive.” The man paused, leaned down close. “I am going to make you an offer that I didn’t offer the other three guys, because I feel like you’ve had some really awful luck tonight. You deserve a little kindness from this stranger,” the man replied, taking another pause. “Here it is, death or immortal life. That is my one and final offer. Take it or leave it.”
“Are you a -?” Talan started to cough up blood again, and spasm violently from his internal injuries.
The man put his hand on Talan’s head, and calmed him instantly. “Yes, my dear boy, I am a vampire; and you have but minutes to live, please, chose quickly.”
Talan passed out before he could answer; and he lay in the snow like a corpse, flat and motionless with a shaft of moonlight spotlighting his face.
“Immortal life it is then,” the vampire replied, and then sank his fangs into Talan’s neck. He drained Talan slowly, savoring the tastiness of good blood, blood that was so much more different than that of the evil people (like the three dead robbers) in his world. Good blood had a salty sweetness to it while bad blood had a bitter after taste like a red wine that had gone sour.
When the vampire finished his feast, washed in a euphoric afterglow, Talan had but a few drops of blood left in his body. The vampire leaned down, and kissed Talan on the lips, a kiss that lingered for a second or two. While their lips were locked, the vampire punctured his tongue with one of his fangs, and then slipped that tongue into Talan’s mouth. He let the blood flow for a minute or so, and then unlocked the kiss.
Talan gurgled and choked, came to, swallowing the vampire’s blood even though he wasn’t sure he knew what he was swallowing.
The vampire stood up, and looked down at Talan. “Welcome to immortality. Sun will be up in a few hours, better make for the nearest crypt,” the vampire replied, and then was gone in a flash, racing back to his castle deep in the forest away from the world at large.
Talan felt his body respond to the vampiric blood, as it moved down his throat, into his chest, arms, hands, stomach, waist, legs, feet, and toes. It healed him, took him over, and replaced the pain and soreness in his broken limp body. He died, saw a brief warm light, and then came back to his now earthly immortal vessel.
An hour later, Talan was on his feet and moving, as dawn was starting to push its way into the night. He was amazed at how great he felt, as he stumbled through the thick forest until he found a small church cemetery. A cold crypt offered him rest and slumber, and he took it. He slept until the next night; and when he woke in the coffin beside the fresh corpse, a new world was upon him. He crawled out of the crypt, and said goodbye to everything and anyone he had ever known as a mortal.
He was ravenously hungry.
It was time to feed.
It was time to be a vampire.
The tomb was silent.
Centuries had passed since that fateful night when Talan had been born into the world of darkness and shadow.
A naked, artificial, green Christmas tree (replaced every season) stood in one corner of this tomb; and there were no ornaments on this tree, no garland of any kind. The coffin he slept in was decorated with thick silver tinsel, and it draped and wrapped itself around this orifice of death like a shiny snake. Talan dared not play Christmas music because he was afraid of drawing attention to himself. People might discover his hiding place if they heard music playing up from somewhere deep in the Earth, no matter how far into the woods he made his lair. The tree and the decorated coffin were more than enough to keep him in a Christmas mood.
Talan raised the lid of the coffin (black, kind of rectangle, with gold handles and gold trim), stretched, and then pulled himself up and out of his bed. He was tall and lanky, six foot five, turned to the blood at the ripe young age of 25. He had kind, softened, yellow eyes, smooth cream colored skin, few wrinkles, and no facial hair. The brown hair on top of his head crawled down to the middle part of his back – clean and well groomed.
He put the small item he slept with each night into the coffin and closed the lid. He took his small IPod out of his pocket, and slipped the ear buds out of his ear. He checked the battery. Almost dead. He found the power chord to it, and placed it along with the IPod into his pocket.
He took a moment to look around at his home tomb.
He loved it here.
The floors were made of a soft brown dirt. The walls and ceiling covered in grey concrete, streaked with dark spots of dampness. It smelled of vanilla, courtesy of a candle he lit each and every morning before he drifted off to sleep. There was a large door that protected Talan from the intrusions of the outside world. This door was solid thick granite, something only a vampire could move. Tacked to the wall in frames were small pictures of sunrises scattered throughout the world from mountains to beaches. He looked at these sunrises each and every night he woke up. It helped him to remember that once he was human, that once he loved, that once he was mortal. He found that by not going full vampire that it helped to keep him hunting evil doers. He was far less likely to attack good people if he could just remember that he once walked the Earth with a death clock in his head, counting down the hours until it was his time to perish.
While he stood in his dusty work boots and jeans, he adjusted his Jimmy Buffett concert shirt and tried to get his mind and body ready for this busy night. Buffett was an artist Talan always enjoyed listening to, and he found time to go see as many shows of this singer as he could. With his vampire skills, he was able to fly to any place Jimmy performed, slip in and slip out of the most secure areas, and enjoy Jimmy’s concerts in a way few fans have ever had the chance to do, hidden in the deepest parts of the stage’s shadows. It was such a fun show to witness. It reminded Talan of Christmas.
Talan had been following Buffett since the late Seventies when he had discovered the song “Margaritaville” playing on a jukebox in the back of a dusty bar, where he was having a small feast. As Talan drank freely of the drunkard in his arms, he had listened to the peaceful tune of that song, and fell instantly in love with it. Now, all these years later, he followed Buffett like any loyal mortal Parrothead.
By the way, in case you were wondering, that drunkard he killed that night –abused his spouse and his two children. He did things to them that were just, well, beyond words, and not worth mentioning. That’s kind of the code Talan lived by. Kill and drink from those who really deserve death, those who really are the worst of the worst. For a long time though, he was never like that. He had no one to train him, no one to teach him, no one to show him the right way and the wrong way to do things. He killed with reckless abandon, because his thirst and his hunger were just so strong that he couldn’t avoid it. He wiped out entire families, communities, and towns, because when the blood called for him to feed, he answered it.
Then one snowy Christmas Eve, it all changed for him.
After finishing his feast with the father of a small family, he had ventured downstairs to wipe his mouth and look for anything of value. While he was rummaging through their safe, the splash of Christmas tree lights caught his attention. He turned to face it, and then saw all of the presents underneath. It was the children’s toys that intrigued him the most.
He walked over, and dropped down to his knees in front of the tree. He picked up a small red firetruck and then glanced to the upstairs area. The child he had so ruthlessly drained of blood would never hold this thing because of him. He paused on that thought for a moment, and then something happened to him, something that hadn’t happened in a very long time. He cried, and cried, and cried. He cried until the sun was slipping onto the horizon.
Unable to get home, he hurried downstairs, and buried himself deep in the basement floor. The next night, he slipped out without anyone noticing; and decided, while he hurried back to his home tomb, from that moment forward to make amends for all the wrong he had been a part of since he was born into vampire life. Christmas seemed like the best time of year to accomplish this new goal, and along with this new goal he vowed to kill only those who do evil and harm to this world.
Were there slip ups after this? Killing some who probably didn’t deserve it, sure, but those were during true feasting times, times when his hunger was so strong he couldn’t keep it at bay. He always felt bad after, but he had to do what vampires do. He had to live, and that life depended on the consumption of human blood, and the death of mortal life.
He grabbed his coat nearby, a Member’s Only Jacket from somewhere back in the Eighties, and slipped it on, zipped it up. He had bought up boxes of these jackets as they drifted off into the ancient relics of days gone by. They may look tacky now, but he really didn’t care. It was a jacket that fit his comfort and his style.
His vampire body rumbled with hunger. It was time to feast, and he was feeling especially hungry. He grabbed a heavy brown sack that jingled as he lifted it then made his way to the door with the sack slung over his back. He looked like Santa Claus – A Vampire Santa Claus – ready for his Christmas Eve deliveries.
He turned the door handle, pushed the door forward, and stepped out onto a small smooth landing. He closed the door to the tomb behind him, and looked up. Dirt stairs stretched upward as they climbed between bare Earth-filled walls.
When he reached the top of this set of stairs, Talan stopped and pushed up. A square patch of Earth lifted into the air, and fell gently onto the ground beside the hole. Talan tossed out the sack, and climbed out.
He surveyed the area. A soft white snow was falling, coating the dark forest, as it fell flake by flake to the ground. Talan smiled, first Christmas snow in a while. Hunger raced across his body again, instincts on high alert. He really needed to feed.
He put the patch of Earth back over the hole, stepped on it a few times in order to make sure it was in place, and to make sure if anyone stepped on it they wouldn’t fall through. Happy that it was secure, and that his home was safe, he picked up the sack, and started to move upwards. Before long, he was in the air, clothes flapping in the breeze, hair blowing out behind him, and gliding towards this year’s city of choice.
It was a cold December night.
It was a cold flight.
This American city was a modern postcard of Christmas, so far removed from the ancient ones Talan had frequented in his native Europe during this time of year. It was picture perfect with fallen snow and Christmas splashed across everything. Each person he saw had arm loads of presents packed tight into cradling arms, last minute shoppers rounding up what they could before the stores closed for the evening.
He stood there a moment and took it all in, sack growing heavy on his arms. He hated to leave this scene, hated to do what he had to do next, because Norman Rockwell couldn’t have painted a better picture than the one he was witnessing. But, he had to feed. He had to eat. The hunger was consuming him now, and the smell of the blood in these happy mortals was almost more than he could resist.
He found a dark alley, looked around, and seeing no one watching, leaped straight up, landing on top of a roof covered in three to four inches of fresh snow. His boots treaded lightly across this white ground, as he found a corner and stashed the sack. He then walked over to the door that led onto the roof. He pried it open, and slipped inside. Down a few sets of stairs, he found what he was looking for. It was an electrical outlet. He plugged in his IPod, looked around for a moment. He walked down to the door that opened onto this set of stairs. It was an emergency door, complete with siren and all, so he knew his IPod would be safe until he got back. He walked back up, onto the roof, and over to the edge of the building. He peered down. Seeing no one about, he stepped over the edge, and gently dropped back onto the snow-covered asphalt below.
He pulled up the collar of his black coat, and made his way down to the docks. The sea breeze was strong off the ocean, cold and salty, as he turned on his predator instincts. He had feasted often in this area while he surveyed the city for those in need, but he rotated his hunting ground. Among the bars, strip joints, and desolate streets he moved each and every night, finding his victim or victims among the dregs of society. It was a great area to hunt and feed, because most of the people who frequented here had no one at home that would miss them.
The first victim was rather easy to spot. The guy was about sixty with a real white beard, and straggly unkempt white hair. He was dressed like Santa Claus from his boots to his stocking cap, but he sure wasn’t acting like the jolly old elf. This guy was trying to find a pro for the night, someone cheaply paid to take the edge off.
“Just go away mister. I don’t do cheap,” the hooker replied, as she tried desperately to get away from Santa.
“Come on. It’s Christmas. Five bucks has got to get me something,” Santa replied turning up the bottle inside the brown bag. He drank down a big gulp, burped, wiped his mouth, and tried to advance on her, get a cheap fill if you will.
“Please, just go away.”
He grabbed her by the hair, and pushed her against the wall. “Listen! I’ve been stuck in this suit for a month. Letting snotty little bitches and bastards sit on my lap so they can tell me all they want for Christmas. I’ve been snotted on, pissed on, and shit on. I need this, and you’re going to give it to me. And I’m not going to pay a dime. You got that bitch!”
The woman started to cry. She had gone into this line of work to pay a few bills, and was warned by so many that this part of town was no place even for a prostitute. She hadn’t listened, of course, and now she was going to pay for her arrogance.
Santa smiled when he saw the tears, for some reason this gave him a charge. He pulled her over to the alley by her hair, and slung her into the darkness. He then followed behind her as she tripped and slipped across the ground. She found her footing, cowered back into a nearby corner, tried to climb into the wall, as Santa drained the bottle and tossed it aside. It smashed with the sound of shattering glass as he advanced on her. She started to fight back, trying to save the one thing she most certainly didn’t want to give up in such a violent way. He slung his hand towards her face, and she stopped fighting, grimaced, waited for the blow, but the blow never happened. Someone stopped Santa’s hand before it reached her face. Then this someone started twisting Santa’s hand until it snapped in two. Bone broke through flesh, blood sprayed, Santa screamed, as he was flung backwards into a trash dumpster. This sent the dumpster sliding sideways. It stopped rolling when it smashed into a brick wall. It hit the wall so hard that bricks exploded into jagged shrapnel, and rained down on the snow-covered asphalt. Santa bounced off of the dumpster with a serious head injury and a jammed neck. He slammed hard into the ground, face first, and lost six of his teeth. He was stunned, dazed, and confused, as he collected himself and spit out blood.
The woman tried to look up at her savior, but she could only make out a face that was sort of white, angelic marble. Everything else was just a tall figure barely able to be seen, hidden by the darkness.
“Who are you?” She asked.
“Take this, and never go back to this line of work again,” Talan replied, as he put something in her hand. “Go home and pay whatever it is that has put you out here tonight. Your life isn’t worth this. I know your parents would agree, and they want to see their grandson.”
“How do you know so much about me?”
“I can read minds. Now go, before I change mine.”
The woman didn’t hesitate. She hurried out of the alley and into the light. When she found a safe place to stop, she looked down at the thing Talan had put in her hand. It was a roll of green bills, at least twenty thousand dollars, maybe a bit more. She turned back to the alley, thanked the mysterious stranger, and then made her way home. It was time to give herself and her son a new life somewhere far away from here. She planned to do just that.
A bottle broke across the back of Talan’s skull, drenched his hair with cheap liquor.
“Come on then. Mister I got to rob a man of a quickie on Christmas Eve,” Santa replied, as he stood on wobbly feet, burping up alcohol and blood. He could feel something warm running down his back from his smashed skull. He was too drunk to care. “That was my last bottle for the night. I’ll make you pay for that too.”
Talan turned around. He said not a word, as he launched onto the man in the Santa suit, and pushed him up against the wall. Talan opened his mouth, and sank his teeth into the man’s neck. He drained the man’s body of every last bit of worthless human blood, which tasted sour and foul, almost nauseating with the liquor mixed into it, but it was food and it was sustenance.
When Talan was finished, he carried the body of the man in the Santa suit over to the dock. He dropped Santa onto the snow, reached down and grabbed his ankles, and then tossed the body as far as he could into the harbor. It landed with a heavy splash somewhere in the distance.
Talan was feeling good now, and warm inside. Not only because he had just fed, but because he had managed a small Christmas miracle, saving the prostitute and her son from a life on the streets.
Now it was on to victim number two, which he found in a bar called “I Got Crabs.” A seedy little strip joint (all nude dancers) that oozed sleaze from the ceiling to the floor and everywhere in between. Music pumped, men cheered, got drunk, as hellish looking lights danced across the entire room. The women were low rent, the ones who couldn’t make it in the more respectable strip joints. Most of these women had some kind of an addiction, and it forced them each and every night to sell their soul to unsavory kinds of men, and sometimes women. Talan sat at the back of this bar (after drying his hair and washing out the cheap liquor), which was splashed here and there with Christmas.
On the stage, several women were dancing, showcasing their bodies by wearing nothing at all. These women were covered in tattoos and scars, scars that were at spots on their arms where needles made their entrance each and every night.
“Do you want anything mister?”
Talan looked from the stage to the topless woman in front of him, kind of older, saggy boobs, wearing bright red hot pants. She looked like she had seen a lot of bad down the road of life she’d been traveling on.
“A Bloody Mary,” Talan replied, smiling to himself. He would of course not drink it, but he always liked to order one, just a little joke for himself.
“One bloody coming up,” she replied, as she turned and wiggled her butt across the room to the bar. It was a saggy butt just like her boobs.
“Lap dance?” Another woman asked, slipping in from the shadows.
“You guys are persistent, aren’t you?”
“We have a system. Drinks first, dance second.”
Talan looked her over. She was heavy on the makeup, dyed blonde hair, a nice naked body in nice shape, somewhere in the thirty to forty age range.
“Are you sure?”
“Look. I would like to sit here and just watch,” Talan replied, as he took out another wad of cash. He slipped a bill out of it, and handed it to her. “This will give me total privacy for the night. It’s yours if you tell everyone in the place that I am to be left alone. Can you do that?”
She looked down at the bill, expecting maybe a five or twenty, but not a thousand. She gladly accepted it. “Sure mister,” the woman replied, as she scurried off.
The waitress brought Talan his drink, and then Talan slipped her a thousand dollar bill. Told her he was to be left alone just like he told the persistent lap dancer. The waitress took the money, and no one bothered him the rest of the time he was there.
Now, completely alone, he was able to sit and watch his second victim, a young guy with dirty blonde hair, wearing a tee shirt, jeans, and cowboy boots. This young guy was an obvious drug dealer, cocaine cowboy, and one who got high on his own supply. The constant sniffing was a dead giveaway. On top of that, this young guy was throwing around money like it was confetti.
December the 24th moved on to December the 25th as Talan patiently waited, and watched. This was a very savory victim, and one Talan wasn’t about to give up on. He could still get done what needed to be done even if he sat and waited just a little bit longer.
Finally, the young guy ran out of cash, and made his exit.
The snow was coming down heavier now, an inch an hour at least, and up to six maybe seven inches were already on the ground, as both men treaded through it, boots leaving tracks that were quickly swallowed up by the heavy fallen flakes. The young guy had no idea he was being stalked; and, just as he neared a dark alley, Talan attacked.
He grabbed the blonde guy from behind and pushed him into the darkness, which quickly swallowed both of them up. Talan drank his fill, sort of enjoying this guy’s blood, which was sour and tangy from the cocaine with an after taste of strawberries (courtesy of the strawberry vodka the guy had been drinking all night).
Finished feasting, Talan picked up the body of the young blonde guy, made sure the surrounding area was clear, and then made his way quickly over to the dock. Just like the guy in the Santa suit before, Talan launched the young blonde guy as far as he could into the harbor. The fish would now have two bodies to feast on this Christmas season.
Talan hurried back to the building where he had left his sack, and again when no one was looking, leaped up to the roof. He landed softly and hurried over to the spot where it was hidden. He freed the bag from the snow, and then made sure the contents were safe and secure inside. They were. No one had bothered it. Who would, this high up; but he had to be sure.
Bag now safe and secure, he stood up, and dusted the snow from his body. He retrieved his IPod, and then made his way back onto the roof. The morning sun wasn’t too far off in the distant future. He would have to hurry, and he would have to be quick; but that wasn’t a problem for a vampire like him. He could move from place to place and into and out of buildings faster than mortals, a gift bestowed upon him when he became a vampire.
He walked over to the edge of the roof, and looked for the first building on his delivery route. When he found it, with his predator eyes he studied the distance he would need to travel, and then leaped to that building, landing softly in the snow, barely disturbing the fresh powder. From his big sack he took out a small little brown sack, which jingled in his hands. This sack had a bow tied around the top of it, and a tag that read – “Merry Christmas, hope this brightens your New Year!”
Talan took the small brown sack and walked over to the door that led off of the roof and into the building. Easily he popped the lock and moved in to the warmth of the interior. He descended the stair well and searched the place for a Christmas tree. Being these were small places, and charities that were in the most need of help, they rarely had more than one Christmas tree; so it was easy to locate. Once the tree was found, he searched out a mortal with an honest heart, woke them with his mind, and told them to come down to where the tree was located. They would find a gift there that would help this charity with what it needed the most.
He repeated this process at each stop, slipping into and out of each building like Santa Claus. As dawn was approaching, all the small bags inside the sack had been delivered, and Talan felt good inside. He felt good that he had been able to do just this little bit to brighten a few needy souls.
He hurried home; and, just before the sun’s rays slipped over the horizon, Talan found his lair, and slid back beneath the dirt. He stripped off his jacket, lit his vanilla candle, climbed into his coffin, and shut the lid. He placed his head on the soft green satin pillow, pushed the ear buds into his ears, and then turned on his IPod.
His eyes closed, and the music played – Jimmy Buffett’s “Christmas Island.” He fell asleep with visions of happiness dancing through his head, as he gripped the small red firetruck in his hand. This had been another good Christmas, now only 364 days to go until the next one. Time enough to return to his vault of treasures. Time enough for Talan to find another city with desperate souls in need.
The news started to spread from charity to charity. It was a Christmas miracle. Throughout the city, those charities in the most desperate of need, the ones about to flounder and fold, had found a small sack of gold coins sitting underneath their Christmas trees. No one knew where these sacks came from or how they got there, but everyone in those charities was very thankful that Christmas Day.