A Halloween Tale From Our Upcoming Anthology…

*Helen and I agreed that this particular snippet from “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At A Time” was just perfect for this time of year.  While it does not cover the entire story, this particular section seemed just right for the holiday season.  And as with many of the tales you’ll find in this collection, we start laying down the foundation for other stories down the road.  We do things like this because we want the Para-Earth Series to be open-ended.  There is no specific ending in mind, however there will eventually be closure for some of the characters, but not for a long time to come.  We’re generating new ideas all the time for existing characters as well as ones you’ve yet to meet.  So rest assured no one is going anyplace just yet.  However, there are also untold stories form earlier years like this one.  So sit back and enjoy an adventure from Lisa and Marisa’s childhood…  

HALLOWEEN FRIGHT (2007)

by Helen Krummenacker

     Two giggling girls, nine years old, were getting to trick or treat on their own for the first time after solemnly swearing to their parents that they would stick together with the buddy system, not go into any houses, and stick to familiar streets. And Marissa and Lisa really meant  it, too, when they gave their word.

     But once they’d gotten their sacks more than a quarter full, they were starting to feel like the main part of town was a little bit boring, even with decorations. Marissa’s mummy bandages were meeting with confused remarks by neighbors who were more familiar with hospital dramas than ancient Egypt, nor did Lisa’s top hat and cape read as Mr. Hyde as much as “Abe Lincoln, maybe?”, killing some of the fun of dressing up. Toddlers and their parents,  surrounding them on the streets,not only slowed them down with small talk, but stifled any real delightful shiver of uncertainty.

     “I know a place,” said Lisa, “where there’s probably no one home, but it would be fun to explore.”

     “What do you mean?” asked her best friend.

   “Well, I know the owner, but he doesn’t live there. The place has been empty for years,” she told Marissa, savoring the word ‘years’, drawing it out for emphasis. “I don’t mean go in, but there’s woods and a little cemetery–”

     “I am NOT going to a cemetery on Halloween night! The place sounds creepy.”

     “That’s what makes it fun!”

    Marissa grinned quickly, thinking of all the spooky old films she loved. “Yeah.” She thought about it. “How about we get our bikes and go there, but we stay in sight of the road when we’re there and don’t stay too long.”

    Lisa nodded. “Sounds smart. But it’s really not going to be too scary. I mean, sometimes things that seem scary at first turn out not to be.” She couldn’t really explain her Uncle Nathan, but it didn’t seem like anything associated with him could turn out bad. After all, he was a vampire… and the sweetest grown-up she knew.

    Marissa was enjoying the chill of the air on her face. “It’s beautiful out here.” The moon was overhead, the trees rustled mysteriously, and the scent of pine, cedar, and birch tinged the breeze. “I thought there were a bunch of old mines on this side of town, though. It’s pretty hilly out here.”

    “Yeah, I think there were some old ones.” Lisa tried to remember what Nathan had told her. “They used to have a small one on the estate we’re going to, that just took out coal to sell in town in the old days. People used it in their stoves. It closed for a while, but then it was opened during World War II by government order, for industry.”

     “How do you know this stuff?”

    “I told you, I know the owner. He’s a family friend, basically. And he’s the last of his family, so sometimes he gets, what’s the word… nostalgic.”

    They saved their breath to pedal their way up a long uphill stretch. At the top, Lisa stopped to let Marissa catch up. She pointed, “See, you can see the house past the field. I guess they kept this area cleared.”

     “Someone’s got sheep grazing there,” noted Marissa. “Sheep aren’t very scary.”

     “Does that mean you want to see the cemetery?”

     “No! … Maybe.” They nudged each other, shoulder to shoulder, before taking off down the hill towards the big old house that stood under the moonlight, darker patches where the pale paint had flaked off, vines growing onto the expansive porch, trees beyond with branches scant of leaves, many already lost to the aging fall.

     It began to feel quite spooky again as they drew closer to see more detail. Faded velvet curtains could be seen through dirty windows. The wind in the trees made suggestive rustling sounds. The creak of their own pedaling could be footsteps on an old, loose floorboard from the rooms above. The girls got off their bikes as they reached a grass-overgrown gravel path leading around the house and began to walk the path, pushing the bicycles by the handlebars, trying not to let the gravel crunch too much under their feet.

     It’s not that I’m scared, Lisa told herself. It’s just that it doesn’t seem right to be noisy here. Like being in a library or a museum. It was a matter of respect.

     Something cold and clammy touched the back of her neck and she squealed before she could think.

     “What is it?!” Marissa whispered, worried.

     “A drop of cold water. It fell off of the eaves.”

    Indeed, the cool night air was producing condensation and the trees and overhangs slowly, almost silently, loosed accumulated moisture without sparing any thought for the nerves of passers by. “We’re being ridiculous,” Marissa said a little louder. “Thinking drops are a clammy finger or that the gravel is tiny bones crunching under our feet. It’s just an old farm no one lives in anymore.  We drive past places like this all the time.

    “Not just like this,” Lisa said defensively. “There was a terrible tragedy here.” She wondered briefly about Marissa’s mention of the gravel sounding like crunching bones.  Someone was getting carried away by their imagination, and that someone was not her. “During the Civil War, you know West Virginia and Virginia were on different sides. And the Virginians were very angry about it. There was this point during the war when a mob crossed the border and they killed a lot of people here.”

    “I did not want to know that.”

    Lisa realized the fun was starting to go out of this for Marissa. “It’s okay. It happened so long ago. And… it’s not like ghosts are real.” There, she’d said it. It might not be a very Halloween thing to say, but she didn’t want her friend to be seriously frightened.

    They stood there beside the empty old house in silence for a moment, looking at each other, wondering what they really believed about any of these things. They were not that far from home, really. There wouldn’t be anything wrong with being here for a picnic on a bright, sunny day. Maybe they were only really afraid because they were breaking the rules. Maybe they only got goosebumps because the night was a little damp and the breeze was making them cold.

    Or maybe they weren’t quite sure that things didn’t go bump in the night. The breeze, which had joined them in stillness, rose up again, and a small, thin voice was carried with it. “Where is everyone?” It was a girl’s voice, sounding a little younger than they were, or perhaps she just sounded even younger because it was high with a plaintive note.

    “Where is everyone?” The voice said again, with a slightly different inflection. Lisa and Marissa opened their mouths and screamed in unison. They climbed back onto their bicycles and got back onto the road. They had pedaled at least a tenth of a mile before they realized they had headed the wrong direction, still travelling away from the town. Now, beyond the house, the trees were the scraggly remains of old orchards, interspersed with volunteer trees grown wild from seeds left by birds or squirrels. Lisa signaled for Marissa to stop.

    “Are you okay?” they asked each other at the same time, then laughed a little, still nervous but feeling reassured by friendship.

    *And while the girls are catching their breath, we will leave them.  To find out what happened next I’m afraid we’ll have to keep you waiting a couple of more months.  We know the holidays are coming and everyone will be busy with family, parties, etc. and so will we.  But rest assured we have more complete stories to share with you here, so please keep checking in and from both of us may you all have a very HAPPY HALLOWEEN.*  

skeleton jack

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Nathan’s Private E-Journal October 6th, 2014 “I May Have Made A Mistake…” Part – II

     Ah, how I love the crisp night air on nights like this.  I think Fall and Winter have always been my two of my favorite seasons.  Long before my change I used to love these times of year.  Something about the cooler weather just made things easier on my achy body.  Of course back then no one had heard of Fibromyalgia, you were just considered “too delicate” or “a malingerer”.   But in those seasons, I just always felt more alert, more alive and still do.  Although now it may be partly the fact that since my body prefers evenings, the shorter hours of daylight probably plays a big part in things.

     In any case the cool air and the signs of autumn are helping lift my spirits tremendously.

     The barren branches of the trees seem to reach out as if to touch the starlit night sky.  There are a few clouds but not enough to mar the view of the moon or the stars.  Halloween is not far away, I hope the evening is like this so everyone can enjoy themselves trick or treating, or going to parties.  Perhaps I should open the manor to visitors?  Nah, too soon.  Although Richard’s done wonders with the place, but it’s not ready for visitors.  Or maybe it’s just me which is probably the case, since I’m using all this mental wandering to avoid the problem of Marisa hanging around the old locomotive, which happens to be exactly where I’m headed right now.

     How long has the old thing been there?  Even I’m not really sure.  We were a rail town long before the war started back in 1861 and trains were coming and going on such a regular basis, who’d have noticed if one engine never seemed to be moved?  I’ll have to ask Louisa the next time I see them.

     I can see her outline in the darkness up ahead.  One side of her is lit up from the distant glow of a streetlamp.  She’s always been impressive looking, in spite of all the rust and weathering from all the years of exposure to the elements.  She’s a fixture from another time and will in all likelihood continue to stand there for many decades to come.  Especially since there is no way to move her.  She’s anchored to that spot, just as I hinted to Marisa last night.

     That probably wasn’t one of my better moves, but she was so upset at the idea of the thing being haunted I had to come up with something more pleasant and intriguing.  Alas, that is part of my curse for having become a writer.  My mouth works faster than  my common sense some days.  Of course there are those who question whether I have any common sense at all, like Louisa.

     Oh the haranguing she’ll give me if the carnival shows up and finds Marisa hanging around one of their ‘anchors’ to this world.  That woman can have the sharpest tongue on her at times.  Hell, she could put a ginsu knife to shame when she wants to.  Not that I can blame her.  Like me she’s very protective of those in her carnival, and with good reason.  If anyone ever knew the true nature of any of the members of Karneval Schatten, or where they came from…

   Wow, I’m actually shuddering at the thought.   But who could blame me?  Our first adventure together was a terrifying one.  If it hadn’t been for Brandon Elliott and his great-grandson Peter, I don’t know if even I could’ve survived the fire that night.  Thanks to them, we all got out in one piece… well almost all of us.  Brandon stayed behind to keep that white-haired creep at bay, while Peter and I got the trapped employees, along with Louisa and her troupe, to safety.

     I tried to go back for Brandon but it was already too late.  The building had begun caving in on itself and the heat had become too intense even for me to mist through.  I felt like a failure that day, until I noticed young Peter, who was standing no more than a dozen feet away, talking to a man that everyone else seemed blissfully unaware of.  It took me a moment to recognize the figure as that of the man who had saved us all, only he was looking much younger.  I thought about going over to them, but just then the figure faded and Peter came over to me saying, “We have to get the others out of here.  There’s a train about a half a mile from here we can get them them on.  But it has to be soon, otherwise the opening will close and they’ll be caught again.”

     I started to ask why, only Louisa’s mother (also her namesake) joined us.  Having seen my abilities in action earlier, she begged me to help get those in her care back to their train.  Most were still exhausted from their imprisonment inside the depths of the factory, while others had been injured in our escape.  Having learned that many of them were, like my Sangui-Sapio half, were not from this Earth, I agreed.  Getting them to the safety of their conveyance had not been easy, but between my mist form and mind control we managed and saw them off.  That was the second time I’d seen a portal to a Para-Earth open, but the first time I saw one close.  However, it wasn’t the last.

    They’d asked me to come with them before they left, but I’d declined.  I’d only recently lost Madeleine my first wife, and our son Brian (who Lisa’s father is named after) was still in mourning and needed me.  So I remained behind, that time anyway.  But our paths crossed again and again, and always they’d bring me back here to this spot because it’s one of their an “anchor points”.  At least that’s what Otto and Louisa told me once, long ago.  In spite of all my travels with both Otto and my carnival friends, there’s still so much to learn about Para-Earths.  Lisa seems fascinated and would like to go with us on one of our jaunts, and one day I might take her.  But first I’ll introduce her to Louisa and company the next time they come calling.

     Whenever that will be.  I never know.  Sometimes they’ll come to town and stay a few days, while other times they’ll just show up in the middle of the night looking for me because my talents are needed.  They always seem to know where to find me, not that I mind.  I have many friends aboard that train.  I’m just not sure about Marisa encountering them unexpectedly.

     The Crypt will be open tomorrow night and I know the girls will be showing up, so I’ll talk to them then.  If worse comes to worse and Marisa insists on visiting the engine, I’ll make sure I’m on hand just in case the carnival suddenly decides to come to town at the wrong moment.

*And so ends this untold tale.  We hope you enjoyed this latest installment and that it piques your interest to learn more about the strange traveling carnival who will make their first full appearance in our upcoming anthology “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At A Time”.  

And For those who have read the “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” this entry takes place the night before Marisa and Lisa are taken up to Nathan’s art studio, after Marisa’s little fight with another girl.  It in the studio that Marisa’s first suspicions about Nathan’s true nature form because of a dropped compact. 

Until next time, happy reading dear friends.*

Nathan’s Private E-Journal October 6th, 2014 “I May Have Made a Mistake…”

*Today’s tale takes place during “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”.  You may consider it an untold tale that happened shortly before the big showdown between Nathan and the Funus-Sorbere  (referred to as the Ghoul Slime in the story).  Yes we intend to start giving these life forms real names in “The Vampyre Blogs – Family Ties” novel.  For the record, the life form that transformed Nathan is referred to as Sangui-Sapio.  This story also serves as a little prelude to one of the tales in our upcoming anthology “TVB – One Day At A Time”.  So please sit back and enjoy.*

         As I sit here in my study, staring into a nice blaze in the fireplace, I think I may have made a huge mistake.

     All that encouragement I gave Marisa last night with the writing… what was I thinking?  But it’s probably too late now.  She seemed really fired up about the idea, especially with Lisa cheering her on.  Any sudden change in attitude on my part would only raise a bunch of questions and self doubts, which is the last thing she needs right now.  I gave her the idea about taking up writing to help keep her mind busy while we wait to hear back on her dad’s test results.  But now I can’t help thinking that there may be unforeseen consequences.

        Not that I don’t think she should try her hand at writing, I think she could probably become a very successful writer.  She has a very keen mind and I’ve looked over some of her papers when she and Lisa have done their homework at my place.  Her command of grammar and sentence structure would make any college professor weep for joy.  Believe me I would know, Otto used to give me no end of grief about my writing.  Mind you, I learned to write back in the 1850’s and 60’s and what was considered acceptable back then was quite another matter.  Furthermore, I went to war instead of college back then.  It wasn’t until 194- that I actually stepped into my first classroom and that was at a university.  And that was only after Otto spent a number several years bringing my skills and knowledge up to an acceptable level, while Para-Earth hopping.

       Otto… I wish he were here, he’d know how to advise me and not just because he’s at least a couple centuries older than me. Oh wait, that’s precisely why he’d know what to say right now.  Sigh.  My mind is all over the place tonight.  Between coming back home, finding out Isabella has been around all this time apparently waiting for me, helping Richard with his drug addiction, and having to keep my secret from Penny and Marisa… it’s a miracle I’ve still got my head on straight at all.

        I so want to see Isabella and talk to her, but as near as I can tell I shook her up pretty badly the night I attacked Richard.   I don’t want to make the same mistake with the others, especially Marisa.  She seems to have a deep dislike for anything vampire-like, which is strange because John told me in confidence they used to watch vampire films together all the time.  I wonder what changed?  Maybe Lisa can tell me, I’ll check with her.

      “Not that any of this helps me with my main problem,” I tell myself and get up.  Pacing around the room I find myself stopping to stare out the window.

     Evening has fully settled in, perhaps a walk might help me work through my little dilemma.  Yes, that sounds like a nice idea.  I always think better when I’m out and about on my own.  And then maybe I’ll come up with a good excuse to keep her away from the old locomotive on the edge of town…

TO BE CONTINUED…