Lisa’s Private Thoughts, December 19th, 2012 – Christmas Tree Time

Tonight we got our Christmas tree.  Some of you may may think we’d left it a bit late, but since I’m a December baby, my parents got into the habit of waiting until after my birthday to put up any Christmas decorations.  One of my mother’s sisters was also a December baby who often complain about how her birthday got overshadowed by Christmas, so my parents go out of their way to make sure that did not happen with me.  Especially not this year when I turned sixteen.

But that had been over a week ago and I was more than ready for Christmas now.  In fact, I’m thinking of telling my parents next year that we should get our tree the day after Thanksgiving.  We could just decorate it for my birthday and then redo it again for Christmas.

You see I love the smell of pine trees and forests.  Especially in wintertime and at night.  Which is why going out to get our tree was so much fun this time.  As soon as dinner was over, Dad told us to get our coats and pile into the Suburban.  “It’s tree time!” he smiled.

“More like about time,” Mom muttered under her breath, while getting her coat on in record time.

Soon we were driving down a snowy lane with snow covered trees on either side of us.  There was no one else on the road, so it felt kind of spooky in some ways.  I swear, there’s nothing like being surrounded by huge trees at night to make you feel really small.  Yet it was beautiful at the same time.

After a while Mom said, “Where are going?  There aren’t any tree lots out this way.”

“We’re getting our tree the old fashion way, straight out of the best supplier known to man.  The forest itself,” Dad smiled.

“We’re going to chop one down?” I cried in dismay.

“No, Sweetie, we’re going to dig one up,” Dad corrected me.  “Remember, cut trees don’t last very long around Uncle Nate.”

Immediately, my mood skyrocketed even higher.  “He’s coming this year?”

“Dear, you weren’t supposed to say anything,” Mom scolded.

“She was going to find out anyway,” he told her,  “See, that’s him up ahead waiting for us.”

I practically climbed into the front seat with them to get a better look.  Sure enough, in a clearing up ahead stood Nathan wearing a an old fashion burgundy frock coat, with a black cape over it.  While on top of his blonde hear, he had a black beaver hat angled every so slightly to give him a dashing look.

By now my little brother Geoffrey, who had been sleeping the whole time woke up and started yelling, “Unca Nate… Unca Nate…” at the top of his little lungs.  If you haven’t guessed, he adores our godfather.

Luckily we were able to park quickly and got him out of the car.  Since I was right next to him, I ‘fun’ of getting him out of his car-seat.  Let me tell you, trying to deal with an overexcited two-year old who won’t stop squirming is an experience I won’t soon forget.  Nor will my stomach where he kept kicking me without realizing it, because he wanted to get to Nathan so badly.

Thank goodness Nathan saw my plight and took Geoffrey from me.  Immediately, my baby brother calmed down and started babbling at him in a mix of words and childish gibberish.  Mom and Dad looked on with amusement while Nathan hung on my brother’s every ‘word’ until he was finished.

“Well you certainly have had an interesting day,” Nathan told him, “I look forward to having more of these talks with you over the coming days.  But for now, we need to find a good tree and we have lots to choose from.”

Looking around I saw he was right.  We did have a lot of choices, but there was one slight problem.  “Kind of big aren’t they?” my Mom remarked, taking Geoffrey from him.

Nathan turned to my dad the two began muttering to one another.  I managed to catch a few snippets like: “I thought you said she’d be okay with punching a holes into the ceiling and possibly the roof…”  and  “….we’d have had to cut through some of the crossbeams and…”

I noticed Mom rolling her eyes several times before they finally finished.

Clapping his gloved hands Dad said, “Nathan says there’s some really nice trees over on the north slope just a few hundred yards from here. I just need to get the sled and pot out from the back of the car.”

“Did you remember the shovels?” Mom asked, and he froze.

Immediately my father froze and winced.  “Oops.”

“Dad!” I cried but Nathan intervened saying, “Don’t worry, I’ve got it covered.  Just follow me.”  and with that he started heading off towards the north slope.

Naturally I raced to join him.  Soon the whole family was following close behind as we slowly made our way through the snowy woods.

At one point we spotted some deer nearby, who did not seem to mind our presence at all.  They stared at us for a while, until they were sure we didn’t have anything to offer them and then moved on.  Soon we emerged from the forest and into what was undoubtedly the north slope.

All around us stood pines ranging from four feet to heaven knows, all covered in snow.  It was a beautiful sight.  I almost felt guilty for our intruding on such a festive scene.  But, we were here on a mission and I knew weren’t going to leave until we located and secured our quarry.

After a few minutes, of knocking snow off a few of the six foot trees, my parents found one they liked.  I had to agree, that their choice was a good one.  It had a lovely shape and would fit nicely in the living room.  But first we had to get it out of the ground.

Turning to Nathan I said, “So how do you plan to get this puppy out of the ground without shovels?”

Smiling he said, “Funny you should mention the word ‘puppy’.”  With that he took a few steps away from me and knelt down in the snow, covering himself entirely with the black cloak.  For several seconds nothing happened.  Then there was movement under the ebony cloth and soon two large black dogs emerged from underneath the cape which fell to the ground and became flat.

“PUPPIES!” my little brother cried excitedly.  He loves dogs, but can’t play with them because he’s very allergic to their fur.  A part of me quickly surmised that this would not be a problem with these two beasts.  As if to prove my point, they went over to where my mother was holding Geoffrey, and allowed him to pet them.

Then the pair trotted over to where the tree we’d chosen stood and began digging in a circle.  Snow went flying in all directions, making the rest of us take a few steps back to keep out of range.  But soon, the dark soil began to replace the white stuff letting us know the real work had begun.  Out of curiosity I bent down and picked up a piece of the thrown soil and found it was still quite solid and frozen.

I shook my head in wonder and marveled at the power of my godfather once more.  I’ve long known of his shape-shifting talents, but sometimes forget just how much strength he is capable of demonstrating.

  

Within minutes the tree wobbles and tilts to one side, as the two dogs emerge from behind it and slip back under the black coat from which they’d emerged.  As my father brings the sled with the big pot on it near the tree, I watch the shapes moving beneath the cape and breathe a sigh of relief when I see hands appear and Nathan stands up.  As he readjusted his hat, I could see that there’s not a speck of anywhere on his hands or face.  He truly is a wonder to behold sometimes.

Anyway, he and Dad managed to lift the tree with its large ball of dirt and roots, into the big pot… or rather tub on the sleigh and quickly made sure it was a good fit.  Then we headed back to the cars and stood it upright in the back of the pickup, Nathan had brought.  In a few weeks, we’ll bring it back and replant it, just as Nathan has shown us so it can continue its life among its siblings.

Two hours later, we had the tree back at home and fully decorated.  Dad has just lit the log in the fireplace, while Nathan is resting on the sofa with a blanket over his legs.  Or rather where his legs would be.  On the floor nearby, Geoffrey is playing with a couple of smaller versions of the black dogs who dug our Christmas tree out of the ground.

Poor Nathan, he’s going to be legless for a good hour or more, meaning he’ll be stuck on the sofa.  I’m going to join him after I finish this post.  He’s going to be staying with us all throughout the holidays this year.  Normally he heads to Connecticut to visit another part of his ‘extended’ family to spend Christmas Eve, but they are celebrating elsewhere this year which means he’s all mine… or rather ours this time.

Glancing over at the archway that leads to the kitchen I can see my mom and dad enjoying a good long kiss under the mistletoe.   I love seeing them like that.  It really makes the season all the more right to me.

Love, family and friends, those are the greatest gifts to have at this time of year.  And I’m going to go get a little of the first, right now.  I’ve got a little bit of mistletoe of my own in my pocket and there’s a very inviting spot right next to Nathan on the sofa.

This is going to be very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year indeed….

****So ends this year’s holiday installment of The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it.  May all your hopes and wishes come true during this festive season.  And may each and everyone one of you enjoy some of the magic of this season.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE

ANNOUNCEMENT – COMING THIS NOVEMBER THE FIRST “VAMPYRE BLOGS ANTHOLOGY” AND OTHER NEWS…

With the completion of Nathan and Otto’s rather lengthy adventure with the Unicorns and Terror Raptors, I thought now might be a good time to let you all know that Helen and I have been hard at work on a brand new Vampyre Blogs book. This volume is set to be released just after this coming Thanksgiving, so you only have to wait another four months to get your hands on this latest installment of the Para-Earth Series.

However… unlike the first book, this one will be an anthology instead of a novel. We will be taking select entries from this nearly four year old blog site to be included in the anthology. Now you may be asking yourself, why put a bunch of stories that are available online into a collection? Well, I’d been getting some e-mails and messages on Facebook, that newcomers to the site telling us that they loved Nathan and company, but found scrolling through so many pages to get to the earlier stories was a bit tedious to say the least.

Upon repeatedly hearing this, Helen and I went over the site and found that had created almost fifty different stories. And while some of them were short, others were so long that they could have anywhere from two to six separate entries to tell entire tale.

While going over some of the earlier and more recent entries, I also began to notice some glaring problems that had been overlooked when they were originally published. This was the direct result of the fact that all of the stories in this blog were basically 1st drafts. Meaning of course they were not fully edited so the ‘occasional’ (massive understatement) misspelling or less-then-perfect punctuations appear in a number of them.

However I can tell you now that all the stories going into the anthology will be getting edited and have a few tweeks made to them for better clarity of reading. Also, the stories will be put in a chronological order. This means they will appear in the anthology by according to when the character telling the tale originally wrote/experienced the adventure. Furthermore, some adjustments being made to some of the stories to create a more smooth timeline for who met who when.

The purpose of doing these ‘adjustments’ is so that the readers can have a better idea of how each of these life events shaped the characters’ personalities before they appear in “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”.

And as they say on television…

 

Both Helen and I agreed right off the bat that any anthology we created needed to have new never-before seen tales in it. In this case, out of the 23-24 stories we currently have lined up for the anthology, six to seven (about a third) of the stories are completely NEW and will not be appearing on this site. Several of these new tales involve Nathan’s ‘long-time’ Otto, aka “The Professor”, who made his debut in “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”. Both his introduction in the novel and his comment, “Apparently, I am am made of NOPE…” have caught the imagination of our readers who have been clamoring for more details on this strange man who Nathan looks up to as a mentor, as well as friend.

Also, since Helen and I are both artists, we are going to try and add some original pen and ink artwork to a number of the stories. We will also be placing either an Intro or an Afterthought to each tale explaining either how the story came to be.

We are also planning more anthologies for the future, not only for the Vampyre Blogs, but also the rest of the characters appearing in Para-Earth Series such as: Alex Hill, Veronica Ross (who along with her boss Roy Petersen – appear in two of the tales in this anthology) and their friends…

Our goal is to release “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day at a Time” on Black Friday or Cyber Monday at the latest, so add it to your holiday wish list, or think about someone you know who’d love a good read on those cold winter nights.

Finally, we are also exploring another avenue with the Para-Earths namely… AUDIOBOOKS!  We’ve had a number of people asking us if and when we’d make the books available in that form.  So currently we are looking into that area and will be providing updates soon.  With we might even have a couple of short stories in audio form for free, to be released just in time for the holidays so we can get some feedback from all of you.

With all that said you can see we have a lot of plans for both The Vampyre Blogs and the rest of the Para-Earth Series in the works.  But have no fears, new stories will still be appearing here as well.  So stay with us and please help spread the word about Nathan, his friends, and the rest of the Para-Earth Series.  The fun has just begun…

Amazon US:

https://www.amazon.com/Allan-Krummenacker/e/B00B1W8TEU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1501360496&sr=8-1

Amazon.UK:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Allan-Krummenacker/e/B00B1W8TEU/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Barnes and Noble:

 https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/allan+krummenacker?_requestid=724422

Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/1383

Lisa’s Private Thoughts – March 15, 2015 “Never Forgotten…”

*A note from the author: Terry Pratchett has long been one of my all time favorite authors.  He’s made me laugh and think so often it never ceases to amaze me.  It’s  because of him there are so many moments of laughter in my own work, but never enough to distract from the main storyline.  However, I’ve never reached the levels of hilarity and pointedness he could.  With his passing this week, I knew I had to do some kind of entry to say how much he and his work influenced me.  I struggled with how to come up with something to say, when I remembered Nathaniel who has been around for so long and has known so many people.  So, through him I share some thoughts and feelings on the passing of a wondrous author, as well as provide more insight into my vampyre and what makes him so special sometimes.  I hope you enjoy.*

My last class of the day got cancelled over at New River Tech, which is also where my dad teaches.   Marisa still had some classes as well, but I didn’t feel like hanging around the campus.  So I decided to go and hang out over at Nathan’s place.  He was probably still resting down in the ground, but at least I’d be there when he got up.

 You can imagine my surprise when I got to his place and found he was up and about in the middle of the afternoon.  I found him sitting on the floor with his back me, with a bunch of books laid out in front of him. Surprisingly, none of them were the old worn hardback kind that lined the walls of the room.   Instead, these were all paperbacks, some going back as far as the 1980’s.

Naturally, this piqued my curiosity so I quietly went over to him and took a look at the covers.  They were colorful with amusing artwork.  All of them were by the same author… Terry Pratchett.

Immediately my heart sank.  “Did he…?”

Nathan nodded.  “It was all over the internet this morning,” he sighed and looked up at me.  “I’m surprised you didn’t already know.”

“Marisa and I have a dance class at 8:00 AM, so I didn’t have a chance to get online,” I replied and sat down next to him.  As soon as I settled in, I rested my head against his shoulder.  “I remember when you introduced us to him when we went to England with you.  He was really nice. I like him.”

“He was amazing,” Nathan smiled.  “Not that he thought it, but you, me and a lot of other people out there did.”

“At least we have his books and stories to remember him,” I pointed out.

“I have a lot more than that,” Nathan said with a smile that aroused my curiosity.

“Oh? What did you two have wild night together or something?” I asked innocently, while batting my eyes at him.

“We had a few nights where… HEY!” as cut himself off as the penny finally dropped.

I was still laughing at his reaction as he desperately tried to explain that nothing ‘unnatural’ as he put it, ever happened between the two of them.  “We just had a few good laughs together, that’s all,” he  finished with scowl that was not remotely intimidating.

Taking his hand I squeezed it and said more seriously, “I know it’s hard losing another friend.  It’s not something you ever get used to, is it?  No matter how long you’ve been around.”

“No, it isn’t,” he said quietly, as that curious smile suddenly reappeared on his face.  “But, I can take solace in the fact that for me they’re never really gone.  My memories are different than most people’s.”

“How so?” I asked curiously.

For a moment he didn’t answer.  Instead he seemed to be gathering his thoughts and then said, “T think Terry put it best when he said…”

“Now most people, can recall a number of things from their past.  But I can recall everything!”

I stared at him in wonder for a moment.  “Everything?” I repeated.

He nodded.  “Our brains are taking in all kinds of information all the time.  The feel of the breeze on our skin, someone’s smile, how it felt to kiss a person you’ve longed for the first time, the works.  But it’s so hard to remember every little detail.”

“I can remember a lot of things,” I pointed out.

“Of that I’m certain, but how hard is it to remember all the things that you saw and witnessed in 1999?”

I started to say something then stopped.  “You mean, in the entire year?  Everything I saw or did within that time?”

He nodded.

Blinking I shook my head.  “No, I don’t think I could.  I’ve probably forgotten most of it.”

At that point Nathan shook his head, “No you haven’t.  It’s all there, but it’s stashed away in different areas of the brain where you can’t always access them.  But it’s all there.”

           

Immediately my mind began picturing photos and letters all scattered about in a huge room inside my head.  Only it looked like total chaos.  “But you can keep track of it all, can’t you?” I asked.

“With effort, but yes,” he smiled.  “I can recall everything friends like Terry ever said or did in front of me.  Plus there are always the stories other people told me about him.”

“And you never forget any of it?”

“Not a single thing,” he replied.

“Then, you remember everyone you’ve ever met and all the things they did,” I whispered in awe.

This time his smile became even wider.  “Now you got it.”

“So you’re like a walking repository of other people’s lives.  The ones who only family and friends knew about, because they never became famous or well known,” I murmured in growing awe.

“That’s definitely one way of looking at it,” he nodded after thinking it over for a few seconds.  “And I share those memories with their descendants so they’re never forgotten.”

“So you make sure their memories stay alive,” I smiled.

“I can do better than that,” Nathan winked.  “If the person is in tune enough with me, I can share those memories so they can have them as well.”

This was news to me so I quickly begged him to share one with me, which he did.  It might not have been the one he’d intended but I saw Mr. Pratchett holding a broom, next to the actor who played “Death” in one of the Discworld movies.  Both were pointing at each other with amusement and camaraderie, then I felt something… calm and at peace.  I knew that last part came from Nathan.  It was how he was feeling about losing another friend.

Having read the Discworld books myself I knew that when Death collected someone there would be a desert for them to cross.  “Do you think Mr. Pratchett’s already crossed it?” I asked Nathan as we were still linked.

To my surprise Nathan shook his head and said, “No.  Somehow I think he’s in a cottage that is much bigger on the inside, and colored in different shades of black, and is filled with all kinds of cats.  Across from him Death is holding out a cup of tea saying, “ALBERT AND I WERE WONDERING IF YOU WOULDN’T MIND STAYING FOR A WHILE AND TELLING US A STORY…”  That’s where I think he is, anyway.”

“I think so too,” I smiled and gave Nathan a kiss, knowing the memory of it would never be lost.

**Special Note: The section where Death is talking to Mr. Pratchett was created by my wife Helen, who gave me permission to share it in this entry.  Thank you my love.**

Nathaniel’s Private E-Journal January 19th, 2011 “Night Flight”

Oh Alaska, how bewitching you are, I never tire of visiting you.  Earlier this evening I visited a  tavern/hotel made completely of ice.  And I’m not talking about just the building itself but all the decor inside was also made of ice.  The bar, the chairs, tables, even the glasses were all made of ice.  The artistry that went into each and every item was exquisite.  I could spend hours inside that place with my paints trying to capture the colors and beauty, to no avail.  Mostly because my paints or brushes would wind up freezing.  Just kidding.  It’s cold inside but not nearly as bad as outdoors where the wind was howling.

But as much as I was enjoying myself, I began to hear the call.  It wasn’t one you could hear with your ears.  No this was the call of the siren of the woods, beckoning for me to come and dance with her beneath the stars.  Her song was so alluring I didn’t hesitate to answer.

Soon I found myself out in the wild once more.  Above my old friends the stars smiled down upon me as I gazed up through frozen waterfalls.  It’s nights like these where I truly believe that magic does exist in the world.  For all the technology and logic we’re taught, the beauty nature can create on her own is beyond compare.

I almost felt like intruder in some ways.  The loud crunch of my feet in the snow made my self-conscious.  I began to feel like I was defacing the peace and beauty of the land.around me.  Then I thought back to one of my favorite movies, “The Fellowship Of The Ring” and remembered how Legolas actually walked and ran on top of the snow without disturbing it.  After a few tries I managed to lighten my step so as not to disturb the surface of the snow as I moved across it in silence.

Soon I raced across the snow laughing and jumping, leaving no trace of my passing behind.  It felt exhilarating.  The feel of the breeze against my cheeks was invigorating.  I soon found myself wanting to ride the gentle wind and came to a halt underneath some trees.  Unlike the vampires of legend when I shift my shape, my clothing does not change with me.  Instead it remains behind while the rest of me takes whatever from I choose.

Tonight, I chose bats.

My hands and arms were the first to shift and break apart and free themselves of my garments.  Soon my shoulders and chest followed, along with my neck and head.  It’s a strange experience, one that is not easy to put into words.  My senses change in ways one cannot imagine.  I don’t mean merely the fact that I take on the keen hearing and senses of the animal form I take, especially when I become not one but many.  I am keenly aware of what’s going on with every single one of me that separates.  I see and hear through its eyes and ears.  I feel the sensation of the breeze and smell of the air as my forms spread out across the night sky.  Its the same when I become a horde of rats or mice.  I’m aware of each tiny foot hitting the ground, every whisker that is tickled by a piece of grass or other object.  Yet I’m not overwhelmed by all the information.  Instead I can take it all in and analyze it without pause or hesitation.  And I can enjoy and revel in all of it.  It’s wondrous.

Much like the aurora that finally begins to pain the night sky above.  But this time I’m seeing it from multiple angles.  But even more importantly, I’m in the air and get closer than ever before.  There is a magic here and tonight I got to be a part of it.  As strange as my existence is, it can be a wonderful life.

Nathaniel’s Private E – Journal January 16th, 2011 “Wolves and Northern Lights…”

I’m back in Alaska for the first time in over a decade and it feels great.  Unlike a lot of people, I like the cold and snow.  But even more importantly I like to be someplace where I can really unleash my powers and experience them to the fullest.

I’m not talking about attacking creatures and sucking blood mind you.  I stick to my blood bags and I’ve got plenty of them on hand.  But up here I can be up and about more often, at least for a few months of the year.  The daylight hours are shorter up here, so I get to move around more and meet people.  I can go places and not have to load up so much on the red stuff.

The stores are still open, people are out and about doing things like ice fishing, sledding, shopping, there’s so much activity it allows me to feel like I’m not so cut off from daily life.  But what I really love is the wide open spaces, especially at night.

When I first became what I am, I felt so lost at first.  But it didn’t last because I soon discovered the wonders of the night.  Back then there weren’t so many towns and cities so the night sky was more clear.  There was less smoke and light pollution back then and a whole other reality was opened to me.

I can still remember the first time I emerged from the ground, having slept the daylight hours away in safety.  As my face surfaced the sight that greeted me was beyond words…

I had never seen so many stars before.  Then again I hadn’t really had the opportunity to look up.  As a child I was usually in bed long before the night sky full took hold.  And when I was a soldier, I’d been trained to keep my eyes on the ground for traps, or to watch my surroundings because you never knew where Johnny-Rebel might be lurking.

But I’m not a soldier these days.  I can stare up into the night as much as I like.  But unfortunately, sometimes the sky isn’t as clear as back then.  Which is why I come to Alaska.

You may wonder what exactly is the connection between the night sky and unleashing my powers.  Well, when I say I ‘unleash’ my abilities, it’s more a case of taking advantage of them.  Oh, I’ve had my fun with them in other places, but here it’s different.  I have a different stage to work on with one of the most magical backdrops ever, the Aurora Borealis.

Imagine if you can having the ability to wander for hours on end, beneath such a wondrous sky.  From dusk to dawn I can watch the most spectacular show and not have to worry about how I do it.

Some nights I’ll shift my form to that of a black wolf and race across the tundra, sometimes alone other times not.  On occasion I’ve met up with wolf packs who smelled I was more than a little different.  But a gentle release of spores soon pacified their misgivings and then we’re off together running and hunting as one.

It was on occasions like these where I’d allow my own hunting skills to come into play.  If I saw the pack was going to lose a kill I’d unleash my own unnatural speed and bring our target to a halt so the others could join in. However it depended on what we were hunting.  Females and offspring were a no-no.  I’d even use my powers to lead the pack off to find food elsewhere.

But if we were up against a huge bull moose or a bison all bets were off.  This may sound callous to some but one thing I’ve learned is nature has its cruel side.  Feast or famine.  Survive or die.  Those packs needed food just like any other animals, and because they’d accepted me as  one of their own I felt obligated to help them.  Basically it was my way of saying ‘Thank you for letting me be part of your, even if it was just one night.’

How many people ever got to say that?

I have many more stories and experiences to share about Alaska, but for now I’m ending this entry here.  The Northern Lights are slowly appearing and I long for the wind on my face…

Good night.

A Note From The Author Plus A New Entry From Nathaniel’s Private E-Journal…

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From the author: I hope everyone enjoyed the first, of what I hope will be many holiday tales shared around Christmastime.  It was supposed to be just a quickie short-story that I would put out on Smashwords as a free download for all, but obviously it grew as I continued to write.  Also, time was getting away from me due to my workload at my college.

So I wound up releasing the story in pieces here on my blog and over the course of days it continued to grow and grow.  In the end I wound up with not a short-story as planned but a novelette (a story between 7,000 and 20,000 words in length).  Not quite long enough to be a novella, but much larger than short-story.    Also due to the time-crunch what I posted here was basically a first draft, which would explain any editing errors some of you might have noticed as you read.

However, I’m still not quite done with the story.  I’m going to release it as a small novelette this coming Christmas.  It will basically be the same story that you read, but there will be an epilogue added to the end as well as original pen and ink illustrations created by me.  For those who don’t know, I’m also an artist and have done the covers for my other novels that have already been published.  I’m aiming for pen and ink in the hopes that it will be easier to upload into e-book form as well as in print.  Yes, I intend to make a small paperback version for those who’d like to hold the book in their hands if at all possible.  I may also try using charcoal (which would simply be black and white, along with shades of grey).   Ideally, I’d use my favorite medium soft pastel, but I wouldn’t be able to guarantee the quality of the colors in the printed form or on the computer.  However, I will be looking into it.  If anyone else out there has had some experience in color artwork in an e-book or in print, please tell us about it in the comment section below.

Now as I’ve told you all before, Nathan’s first novel-length story will be coming out around either October or December of this year (2015).  Of course, I will have a number of new blog and e-journal entries for him and the other characters to post here.  I’ll also be releasing another novel before then titled “The Door”, which will be the third in my Para-Earth Series.  It will star several of the characters you already met in my holiday novelette, (Sergeant Veronica Ross, a grown-up Julie, and Police Chief Roy Petersen).  Alas Jason will not appear having joined his ancestors, but not before he passed the mantle of shaman on his niece.  If you’d like to read how this all happened, you can check out “The Bridge” and its sequel “The Ship”:

NOTE: Both e-books are just $1.49 each for the next two weeks.  After that, the price will got back up to $2.99 a piece.  You can also sample the first 30 pages of each story for free at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.  Just click on the title and start reading.  I’m providing the links right here:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/1383

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00B1W8TEU

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/allan-krummenacker

With all that said, I hope to see more and more of you here as I supply you with more short tales of Nathaniel and his friends.  I plan to introduce more characters here as the year goes on, so keep reading and spread the word about this site.  Happy New Year to you all, as I step aside and let Nathaniel take the stage…

Nathaniel’s Private E-Journal, January 1st, 2005

12:10 AM
 

 
 

I’m standing on a deck overlooking the great wide Pacific Ocean.  Another year has passed but I am not alone.  I am surrounded by members of my extended family located in Aptos, California.  Although that’s not where I am at this moment.  We’re standing near the famed Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk having just watched a fabulous fireworks display out on the water.

The Cloudfoots have been part of my life since 1999 when I first met Jason, the patriarch of these wonderful people.  As their name implies, they are of Native American descent, specifically they are Seneca one of the five original tribes that formed the Iroquois Confederacy.

Together, Jason and I, along with Otto located his missing niece Julie who had run away from home just two days before Christmas.  The moment Jason and I locked eyes, I knew there was something different about him and I was right.  He was a shaman, one who knew about the Para-Earths, as Otto has named those alternate realities of this world.  Jason also knew right away I’d been to one and had come back changed, but he also knew I was still a good man and our friendship formed.

He’s here with me tonight enjoying the love and joy of his children and grandchildren.  Jason lost his wife two years ago, for which I was very sorry.  She had been a wonderful woman, warm and caring.  I’d spent that New Year’s Eve with him, to make sure he did not face it alone.  Not that I had much reason to worry.  Julie and her parents were there as well.  It was the first time I’d seen her in 1999 and my how she’d grown.  From the pudgy little girl I’d help locate, she was now slightly taller than me and still growing.  She also had filled out in more ways than one, especially in the muscle department.  I feel sorry for any boy who pissed her off.  Not that she seems very interested in them.  A part of me suspects her yearnings lie elsewhere.  I just hope I never have to compete with her for a date.

Not that such a thing is likely.  I’ve kept to myself more since Veronica and I parted company three years ago.  I’ve found myself thinking about her a lot tonight.  Probably it’s because of all the police officers watching over tonight’s festivities.  There was one female officer in particular standing near her patrol car that caught my eye.  She looked nothing like Veronica, but the way the officer stood there reminded me so much of my red-headed love.

God she was amazing.  It’s not often you find someone so passionate and dedicated, not only to you but to her work.  But I digress…

A new year stands before us all.  I have no idea what surprises this one will have in store for me or those I call ‘family’.  But I know I will not face this new year alone which is a great comfort.  I have people like Jason, Otto, Brian, their families and so many others who’s lives touch mine.  I think that’s been the greatest gift of all.  Even though I have outlived so many people who I’ve loved, I am never truly alone.  And because I remember, none of them are ever forgotten.

My existence is a strange one, but at least I find it serves so many others.

Jason is proposing another toast to all so I better wrap this up.  A promising new year awaits and I for one am looking forward to seeing what it has to offer.

“Home For Christmas: A Para-Earth Holiday Tale” – Part Six

woods-at-night

CHRISTMAS REUNIONS

For several seconds no one moved.

Jason looked around.  He knew the opening had to be near here, but even he didn’t know its exact position.  And they didn’t have much time.  A part of him didn’t trust Sergeant Ross and her companions to not overreact if they saw the creature.  Besides, he felt they owed her for protecting Julie.

There had to be a way to find the portal.

Just then he noticed Otto cupping his hands to his mouth.  A second later, his friend let out an amazingly accurate imitation of the low bellow they had heard before.

Jason was impressed.  He himself could imitate a great number of animal calls, but only after he’d heard them a number of times and had practice long hours.  Otto, on the other hand, had done it perfectly after just hearing the call once.

In fact the call had been so accurate, even ‘Big Mama’, as Nathan referred to the animal, reacted.  Luckily, the young man was still with her and began stroking her large muzzle to calm her down, while saying, “Easy, false alarm.  We’re just trying to get our bearings.”

But just as the great beast settled down an answering cry, louder than the last one, came back.

Beaming Otto cried, “Got it!  This way my friends, Nathaniel, get her to follow.”

However, the young man did not respond.  Instead his eyes seemed fixed on the opening of the cave.

Jason followed his gaze and saw two figures watching them closely.  “Ah,” sighed and went over to Nathan.  “Come, we must get her home first.  They will wait until we return.”

“But…”

“Don’t worry, they aren’t going anywhere.”

“Who isn’t going anywhere?” called Otto staring at them and then at the cave.  “I don’t see anyone.  Now come, we have to get her home before the opening closes.”

Nathan sighed and shook his head.  “Damn,” the young man murmured and turned away.

Quietly, Jason studied the boy and his dog then made a slight gesture in their direction.  The two seemed to understand and headed back in the cave, while he followed his ‘three’ friends further into the woods.

‘Big Mama’ seemed to sense what was coming.  She was becoming more and more excited as they moved forward, and it was getting a little harder for Nathan to control her.  But every so often a stream of green mist seemed to snake out from beneath his coat and she’d calm down again.

Moving past them, Jason caught up with Otto who was leading the way and asked, “How will we know we’ve found the opening?”

“If we’re at the correct angle, we will see it,” his friend assured him.  “Otherwise, we could literally walk right by it and just hear strange noises from among the trees.”

Hearing this, Jason peered deep into the forest ahead.  After several moments, he spotted something that definitely did not belong.  “There it is!” he whispered.

Otto looked at him, “You’ve spotted it already?  What does it look like?”

“Something wondrous,” was all he could say.

Nathan had overheard everything his two friends were saying and smiled.  He could now sense the opening himself, and so could his charge.  She was becoming very excited, sniffing the air eagerly.  Still he did not relinquish his control over her, for fear she might rush ahead and accidentally run his companions over.

But it was getting harder, so as one of her massive front paws came down in the snow, he scurried up her arm and onto her shoulders.  She did not seem to mind in the least.  Nor did she flinch when a couple of his fingers elongated into narrow sharp tips which slowly penetrated her thick skin.

However instead of drawing from her, he allowed a small amount of himself to pass into the creature.  It was just enough to establish a link between them.  Then he focused his eyes straight ahead.

The animal paused and shifted in wonder.  He knew she was now seeing through his eyes and was amazed at what lay before her.

The opening was clearly visible now.  It was like a scene from another time that had super-imposed itself over the dark forest landscape.  Ice and snow seemed to stretch for miles, while in the sky ever shifting colors, similar to the northern lights glowed and danced.  Amidst the white were moving shapes some of which resembled creatures who had walked the world he knew, while others were completely unknown.

But close to the opening were several beasts whose size and shape were very familiar to him.

Big Mama seemed to recognize them as she called out and they responded in kind.

Knowing the time had come he called out, “Uh guys… you might want to move to one side.”

Otto and Jason did as instructed, just as his mount lunged forward as quickly as her game leg would allow.

Within seconds Nathan found himself in that other version of Earth caught amidst a family reunion of sorts.  The other sloth-like beings crowded around Big Mama, sniffing and rubbing against her in a most welcoming manner.

It soon became clear he wasn’t going to be able to get down easily.  Not unless he wanted to be accidentally stepped on.  But then he heard chanting from behind and turned see Jason and Otto had followed them into this place.

The other creatures seemed intrigued by their presence and in particular the shaman’s song.  The moved away slightly, allowing Big Mama to lower herself into the snow.

Taking the hint, Nathan slid down and stroked her muzzle one last time.  “Merry Christmas,” he murmured to her and then headed over to where his friends waited.

As soon as he joined them, Jason brought his song to an end.

A moment later, the ‘reunion’ started up once more as their charge was herded gently away from the opening and up the nearest hill.  Towards the top she stopped and turned, sniffing the air once more and called back to them before heading off with her family.

woollymammoth5-1-jpg

For a moment the three men stood there staring at the wondrous sights around them.  But then Jason said, “Sergeant Ross will be looking for us, and she’ll have others with her.”

“True,” Otto sighed and led the other two back out the way they’d entered.

“How long will the opening last?” Jason asked once they were back in the forest>

“Another day, maybe two,” Otto replied.  “I’d like to come back here tomorrow and do a little exploring, if you don’t mind Nathan.”

“I can load up on the red stuff and join you,” his friend offered.

“We’ll see,” Otto told him, “We have no idea how much sun there might be, and remember it would reflect off all that snow and ice.  It might be too much for your system even if it was well fed.  Besides, the weather report for around here is more snow.  I’d rather you deal with any remaining questions Sergeant Ross may have.”

“Indeed,” Jason smiled, “I have a feeling she’ll want to ‘see’ him alone.”

Otto couldn’t resist nudging his young friend and saying, “You dog, you.”

Before Nathan could respond, they came to the clearing near the rocks just as Veronica and several officers, including one who appeared to be her boss.

“There you are,” she cried upon spotting them.  “Did the bear come back at all?”

Otto shook his head and turned to Jason who said, “No, she didn’t.  I think she knew her work was done and has gone home.  Black bears are rarely seen in these parts because they try to avoid humans, but a child in distress was enough for her to make an exception.”

“Huh?  I’ve heard of wild animals protecting or adopting children, but never thought I’d see the day it actually happen,” commented the gruff-looking officer.  Then the man looked at him and Nathaniel and said, “I’m Police Chief Roy Petersen, thanks for your help in finding the girl.  We appreciate it.”

“We were happy to help,” Otto replied and then noticed the fellow looking at him curiously.

“Have we met before?” the man asked, “I could swear you seem familiar, especially with that accent.”

“I doubt it, this is my first time here in Connecticut,” Otto shook his head. “I don’t come over to America very often.”

Just then Veronica frowned and said, “But Nathan said the two of you investigate reports of strange creatures, like Bigfoot and whatnot.”

‘From now on Nathan does not get to do the talking,’ thought Otto as he quickly came up with a reply. “This is true.  But we look into reports from various countries.  There are legends rumors of unknown animals all over the world.”

This seemed to satisfy her as she shot a glance at Nathan who smiled back.

Otto quietly resigned himself to the fact that they would probably be sticking around at least for a few more days.

“How is Julianna?” asked Jason, anxious to know how his niece was doing.  He would’ve dearly loved to have held and spoken to her for even just a few minutes, but circumstances being what they were had prevented it.

“She’s fine, in fact she’s doing really well,” Chief Petersen smiled.  “Dispatch got a call from your wife just as we were heading out.  Your brother and his family were found alive and well out at sea.  Their ship took a pounding during the storm which drove them way off course and knocked out their radio equipment.  But everyone’s fine and they’re being towed back to port even as we speak.  With a little luck, they’ll be joining you on Christmas day.  So it looks like our work is done here.”

“Indeed it does,” he smiled back and then noticed Nathan glancing back at the cave and thought, ‘Almost.’

Bonnechere_Winter04

As the clock struck midnight, Jason made his way through the snow once more.  Julianna was safe and resting comfortably.  He’d asked her many questions about her experience and her responses had both warmed his heart and troubled him slightly.  She remembered things exactly as Nathan had instructed, but she had asked questions about things like how large the ‘bear’ had been.  To her the animal that had protected her had seemed much larger than any black or even grizzly bear.  And there had been something odd about the beast’s claws…

He sighed inwardly.  She was going to follow the path, just as he and his brother had.  He had hoped it would be one of his own children, but they had not shown any sign of interest or talent for it.  In fact, they hardly showed any inclination to even really learn the stories or herbal remedies that had been passed down through the years.  Whereas his niece, she could never get enough.

It was something he’d have to discuss with his brother, but after the holidays.  There was no need to burden him with what may come to pass down the road.

Besides, there was another who needed his help right now.

He had just reached the area where the cliff face stood with its low narrow cave entrance.  His ears could detect voices coming from inside.  One of them he recognized and smiled.  Yes, he had not been mistaken in placing his trust in his new friends, particularly this one.

Closing his eyes, he listened carefully, filtering out the sounds of the wind and trees until he could hear ‘them’.

“So you’re parent’s car flipped over and you were thrown from the wreck?” Nathan was saying to the twelve-year old boy before him.  The lad was huddled up close to his dog.

He could clearly see the boy’s dog still seemed uncertain about what to make of him.  But there was little he could do about it.  Misting would not help in this particular case.

“That’s right,” Michael nodded.  “I tried to reach the car to get at my parents, but I could see from all the blood they were dead.  Then that big animal started roaring and stomping around and Riff and I took off running.”

“Looks like you hit your head pretty good,” Nathan remarked.  “That’s quite a bump you got there.”

“Yeah,” the boy nodded, touching his head.  “I must’ve hit the doorframe when I got thrown.  I remember feeling really dizzy as me and Riff headed into the woods.  He stayed with me the whole time, wouldn’t leave my side even once.”

“Then you found this cave and crawled inside, am I right?”

“We had to,” Michael told him.  “That thing was still out there and it seemed to be following us.  When Riff led me to the cave, I could see right away the thing wouldn’t be able to get inside, so I let him help me in and then we just curled up together and waited for the creature to go away.”

“Only it didn’t, it kept hanging around didn’t it?”

“Yeah,” the boy nodded and touched his head.  “Dunno how long we’ve been in here.  I kind of fell asleep and then I heard that girl crying and knew the creature would go after her so…”

“So you called out to her and tried to keep her safe?”

“Yeah, I didn’t want it to hurt her like it did my folks.”

Nathan frowned, “I thought you said the creature killed them.”

The boy hesitated, “I thought so too, but when I was asleep I dreamed I heard them calling to me.  And then today, when I was watching you and the others dealing with the thing, I heard them again.  Do you think they might be okay?”

Before he could answer, Nathan’s sharp ears detected chanting coming from outside the cave.  He recognized the voice immediately, but the song was different than the one he’d heard earlier.  Yet it filled him with a sense of longing.

Then he heard more voices calling as if from a distance, but getting nearer.

Both Michael and Riff heard them too and stood up.  “That sounds like Mom and Dad… can you hear them?  Or am I just dreaming again?”

“No,” Nathan assured him, “I hear them too.”

Michael started forward and then stopped, “What if the creature is still out there or comes back?”

“It won’t,” Nathan assured him.  “She’s gone home and now it’s your turn.”

The boy hugged his dog and murmured, “I’m afraid.”

“I’ll carry you, both of you,” Nathan offered and removed the dark heavy cloak he’d changed into before coming back here. After wrapping both Michael and Riff in it, he lifted them up and headed for the opening.

“I hope we’re not too heavy for you,” the boy whispered as they drew closer to the entryway.  “Riff’s pretty big.”

“You guys aren’t that heavy,” Nathan assured him and even felt a faint wagging of a tail as he stepped out into the clearing.

There off to his left he spotted Jason continuing his chant, while a man and a woman stood near the trees with their arms outstretched.  “Michael!” they cried in unison.

“Mom!  Dad!” the boy cried and rushed to meet them, with Riff following close behind.

Nathan stayed still, his arms still held out as the reunited family hugged and laughed, before slowly fading before his eyes.

Once they were gone, Jason finished his chant and approached him.  “Do not look sad my friend, they’ve been searching for him all this time. And now they have all moved on, just as you have.”

“Is it that obvious?” Nathan asked, shifting the bundle in his arms ever so gently.

“How long have yours been gone?”

“Over a hundred and thirty years,” Nathan told him.  “But I do have other family.  It’s an extended family which is composed of many homes and people who know what I am, and that I’ll always watch over them.”

“My people belonged to the Iroquois, and we used to live in longhouses that were comprised of many families who lived together,” Jason remarked.  “You’re extended family sounds much the same.  I would honored if you would count my family among them.”

Nathan thought about it for a moment and then said, “I’d like that too.  But, some of them are going to have to know the truth about me.  I don’t age like normal people.  If I keep coming back to visit, I’ll either have to wear make-up to look older or…”

“My wife and my eldest boys are fully aware of the other worlds,” Jason interrupted.  “Remember, I told you before about that which my ancestors imprisoned so long ago.  Well, that prison still exists and it is my job to keep watch over it and make sure the thing does not escape.  After I’m gone one of my children, or possibly one of my brother’s, will take over the job.”  Here the shaman paused and turned to him and said, “I would feel better knowing they had someone like you to help guard their back.”

Nathan smiled, touched by his friend’s words.  “Of course I will.”

“Good, it would be nice to add to my family at Christmas.  You and Otto will join us.”

Hearing the note of finality in his friend’s voice, Nathan nodded.  “Of course,”

As those two words left his lips the beam of a flashlight appeared among the trees.

A moment later, the familiar form of Chief Petersen, followed by one of his male officers appeared.  “Okay Jason, I’m back just like you asked.  What did you find…?  Oh no, please don’t tell me that’s Rachel?”

“No, it’s Michael Broughman,” the shaman replied.

“The boy who disappeared after his parent’s car crashed eight years ago?”

“I’m afraid so,” Nathan nodded.

“Where did you find him?”

“Inside the cave,” Jason answered.  “Julianna told me about a boy she’d seen in there who’d helped her.  We never saw anyone come out, so Nathan and I came back to see if he was still there.”

“And apparently he was,” Roy shook his head in disbelief.  “But she said he ‘helped’ her?  How?  Are you telling me she saw a ghost?”

“Perhaps,” Jason shrugged.

“Or maybe she simply saw the shadow of the remains and imagined he was real,” suggested Nathan.  “The mind can play tricks on people, especially when their stressed or upset.”

Chief Petersen took a closer look at the bundle and nodded.  “Looks like the boy took a nasty blow to the head in the crash, probably a concussion.  The dog knew he was hurt and wouldn’t leave him so it tried to keep him warm and they both froze to death,” he sighed.  “Well, at least now they can reunited with his folks and rest in peace together.”

“They already are I’m sure,” Nathan heard Jason reply as they both stared into the woods, which gleamed like a frozen cathedral in the night.

magical snowy night

THE END?  OR WOULD YOU LIKE AN EPILOGUE?  PLEASE LEAVE AN ANSWER IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.  I HAVE A LITTLE MORE TO OFFER, BUT ONLY IF YOU ASK FOR IT MY FRIENDS…