The Artist – August 2009 Part VI

When I woke up, it was evening again. Apparently, I’d slept through the entire day – aside from being woken up to be given medicines or have my temperature taken. Around seven Dr. Jack, Brian and Nathan came into my room and closed the door behind them. That was when I knew something big was up. Especially with the looks on both Brian and Jack’s faces. The two of them kept glancing uneasily at Nathan, which started making me nervous about him all over again.

Something in my eyes must’ve shown because Nathan paused as he started to sit down next to my bed again. Frowning, he looked from me to the other two and back. Finally he said, “Great, now I know how you two guys felt when I was in mental contact with her, this morning. Now is anyone going to let me in on the secret or are we going to play charades? Which would be really tough on her, considering her condition.”

I made a little noise to get his attention and then began inhaling deeply to get my point across.

“Oh, right,” Nathan nodded and once more one of his hands misted allowing me to breath it in and communicate more freely.

“Why are they staring at you so anxiously?” I asked mentally, trying to keep my own anxiety in check.

Nathan gave the other two a look and turned back to me. “Because, I told them what I have in mind to help you finish your art piece in time for the exhibition,” he said gently. “However, neither of them are all that sure you’re going to like my proposal, or at least what it involves.”

While I couldn’t move my jaw without severe pain, I had no problem raising a questioning eyebrow at him. Finally I thought, “Care to elaborate?”

He thought for a moment before saying, “Depends. Do you want the full-scale slideshow presentation or the bottom line version?”

“Bottom line, please,” was my reply.

“I’m going to give you access to my eyes and control of my hands,” Nathan answered.

“Come again?” I asked mentally.

Leaning forward he explained. “As you said yesterday, I don’t have the skills to manipulate the clay and do what’s needed to get your sculpture ready.  But you do. You know how the clay should feel and how to handle the tools and whatnot. However, you can’t leave this bed, at least not physically. But,  what if I took you with me to the studio ‘mentally’ so to speak?”

I admit I was both puzzled and intrigued. “Do you mean like how we’re communicating right now? Through this bond you made?”

“It will be something a bit stronger,” he replied and leaned forward. “You’d actually be able to see through my eyes and even feel whatever I touch or manipulate with my hands.”

For a moment I was tempted, then shook my head. “You still wouldn’t know how to manipulate the clay or the tools…” I began.

“But you would if I let you control my hands,” he cut in patiently. “Which is what I plan to do. Once we were in the studio I’d let you take over, up to a point. I’d get everything ready, under your guidance, but when it came time to actually work on the sculpture you’d be in charge. I’d be sort of in the background watching and experiencing what you do.”

It sounded insane, yet at the same time I was intrigued. Then a thought hit. “What about my body back here? What will be happening to it?” 

“You’d basically be asleep,” Nathan assured me. “You’d still be breathing and everything, It would just be your conscious self would be awake seeing and feeling through me.”

I had to admit it sounded like a very good idea. Yet I couldn’t stop glancing over at Brian and Jack, who were still looking uneasy, even worried.

They must’ve caught me staring at them because Brian finally spoke up. “Before anyone gets too excited, Nathan you might want to tell her what has to happen for this little experiment to take place.”

Immediately, my heart sank. For Brian to look this worried, it had to be something bad. Turning my gaze to Nathan I thought, “Is there something you haven’t brought up yet?”


Without blinking my would-be savior shifted uncomfortably and then glared at the other two. For a second he put me in mind of the cartoon mouse “The Brain” shooting a dirty look at his partner “Pinky”. A silent exchange of heated gestures passed between the three of them, before Nathan finally turned back to me and smiled sheepishly. “As a matter of fact, yes. Yes, there is…”

“And what is it?” Even without being able to move my mouth, I managed to put an pointed edge to the question.

“To make this happen, I’ll need to bite you,” he winced.

TO BE CONTINUED…

“The Artist” – August 2009 Part – V

*A quick note from one of the authors: Sorry for the delay in getting this part uploaded, but both WordPress and Blogger have been making changes to their systems lately and that threw me for a while. I’m still having trouble with Blogger, which hosts the sister-site to this blog, so this installment is only appearing here. Hope to keep things more regular in the future as this story has grown much larger life than I’d originally anticipated. But the payoff will be well worth it I think. I love exploring some of the new ways of using Nathan’s abilities. So without further ado, let us continue the story…”

 

After a few seconds, Nathan came back with Dr. Jack. If I could have, I would’ve been grinning from ear to ear. Yet somehow he sensed the change in my attitude towards him. For one thing he smiled, then came over and pulled up a chair next to my bed. My mind raced with questions, especially one… but then I remembered I couldn’t speak or use my hands.

He must’ve seen something in my eyes, because he frowned and asked softly, “Is my being so close a problem?”

Forgetting myself I started to shake my head a little too vigorously, which caused me to let out a groan of pain.

Nathan reached out a hand and touched my brow and said, “Easy. Listen, I can tell you want to say something important. And I think I know a way to help, but I’m going to need you to trust me. Can you do that?”

I managed a little “Uh-huh…” noise in my throat.

Green_Mist_by_Devvyn

“Good,” he replied gently and held up a hand. A moment later, a greenish mist began emanating from his sleeve. Before I knew it, I couldn’t see his hand anymore, only the mist, only now I could also detect little flashes of blue in the miasma. “If you breathe this in, it will allow us to make a mental connection between us. I won’t be able to read your mind, but I’ll be able to get impressions of what you want to say and I can act as your voice. Are you all right with that?”

This time I gave him several muffled but eager “Uh-huhs.”

“Okay,” he nodded and brought the sleeve with the mist closer to my face. “Now, just breathe normally, there’s no need to inhale deeply.”

For the record, I really tried to do as he instructed. But I was so eager to try to communicate with everyone I wound up doing an impression of a junkie with couple of rolled up twenties stuffed up my nose.

Nathan pulled his arm back and stared at the now empty cuff  muttering, “I’m going to need that hand back eventually.”

I started to mentally apologize when suddenly I heard my thoughts come out of his mouth. “Sorry about that. I hope I didn’t… Oh my God you’re talking in my voice!”

Nathan gave me an embarrassed grin.  “I hope you don’t mind, I just thought it would be easier to do things this way so these two would know who’s saying what.”

Glancing over at Brian and Dr. Jack I could see they were both staring at us in surprise.

After a moment Brian said, “I had no idea you could do that, Nathan.”

psychic-connection

“It’s a little something Otto figured out some years ago on one of our expeditions to another Para-Earth,” my hero explained shyly. “We already knew I could help pacify a being who inhaled my mist form, by making our intentions known that we weren’t a threat. But he thought I could take it a little farther if I put a little more of myself into the mist to establish a rapport so to speak. Mind you it only works with beings whose minds are similar enough to ours in thought for me to understand what they want to say. Believe me, it doesn’t always work, but I knew it would in this case.”

He turned back to me then and asked, “Are you okay? Or is this too weird?”

Taking a deep breath, I shook my head slightly and thought, “No. In fact it’s more than I hoped for.” Admittedly seeing and hearing my thoughts coming out of his mouth, was kind of weird, but not so much that I didn’t want him to break our connection. With this new method of communication available to me, I told them everything that had been troubling me. They listened patiently and gave me all the assurances they could. But when I told them about the unfinished sculpture of my grandfather back in my studio and how important it was to me, they fell silent.

I think a full minute passed before Nathan broke the silence. “Even if we brought the piece here, there’s no way you could work on it. Not with your hands in their current state.”

I shook my head sadly.

He took a deep breath and looked down at his own. He had two again which surprised the rest of us.

Glancing up he noticed the rest of us staring and grinned sheepishly. “Sorry, felt weird just having one, so I shaved a pound or two from other areas and grew a new one.” Then he turned to me and asked, “Here’s a thought. With our connection, would I be able to finish the piece under your guidance?”

Have you ever worked with clay before?”

“No, but I’m a fast learner,” he replied.

I sank into my pillow a little more and thought about it. After a few moments, I shook my head ever so slightly. Whenever I worked in clay there was a connection between me and my creation. I knew how the clay should feel as I smoothed and shaped it. There was no way I could convey these concepts and techniques by simply instructing him.

Nathan must’ve ‘heard’ my thoughts because he began nodding his head. “Yeah, I didn’t about that. You and the clay kind of become one when you’re working with it.” Then he stood up. “Let me give it some thought. I think there might be a way to help. Okay?”

I carefully nodded. And that’s where we left things. He came back the next evening with the most unbelievable suggestion I’d ever heard.

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

 

 

 

 

The Artist – August 2009 Part IV

I really hadn’t meant for it to happen, but I couldn’t help myself.

I’d seen Nathan many times since the day he rescued me and Brian, but it always took all of my self control not to shrink away from him. I knew Brian looked up to him as a hero, so I’d always tried to hide it. To be honest, part of me thought of him as a hero too, but… the memory of his feeding off the guy was carved just too deep into my memory. And this time, all three of them had seen my reaction.

Brian and Jack looked puzzled, but Nathan clearly knew. But the expression on his face wasn’t one of anger or annoyance, it was one of pity. Without a word, he pulled the curtains shut around us and looked down at me with sad eyes.

“You saw,” he said in a quiet voice, “I’m so sorry.”

Brian stared from him to me with a look of confusion on his face. “Saw what?” he asked finally.

Naturally I couldn’t answer, but Nathan could. Although his voice was heavy with regret as he did so.

“The same thing you did,” he told Brian. “The time the two of you were abducted by that sex trafficking bunch, and…”

“You came for us,” my childhood friend finished nodding his head. I could see the memory was still fresh in his memory. A faraway haunted look crept into his eyes. Then he turned to me and said, “But, I thought I kept you from seeing anything. I was holding you to my chest.”

He had, but even with his arms covering my head I’d been able to see through the crack between them, and wished I hadn’t ever since.

“I wasn’t exactly quiet,” Nathan said, breaking the moment, “And of course you saw what happened, Brian. I suspect your guard might have dropped enough for her to get an eyeful. Am I right?”

That question was directed at me and I nodded.

At that point, Jack came forward and pulled out his stethoscope. “I’d like you to listen to something,” he told me and held out the ear pieces at me.

I wasn’t sure what he had in mind, but I nodded and allowed him to gently place them in my ears. Then he turned to Nathan who he instructed to open his shirt.

“Hey… when did this place become Chippendale’s?” Nathan protested, but opened his shirt anyway. Then he leaned forward asJack placed the other end of the stethoscope on his chest. “Woo… that is cold. Do you keep that thing in a freezer or something?”

“Shhh… let her listen,” Jack replied while I did as he instructed.

The sound of a healthy beating heart came loud and clear through the instrument.

“An undead creature, wouldn’t have a heartbeat like that would it?” Jack asked me.

I wasn’t really sure. After all, a stake through the heart killed vampires didn’t it? So I merely shrugged.

Undaunted, Jack moved the diaphragm of the stethoscope to the other side of Nathan’s chest. “Hear anything?”

I listened, but I just heard breathing this time.

“Nathan, would you move your heart to where I’m positioned?”

I don’t know who looked more puzzled, me or the man I was still trying to figure out. But after a moment, he nodded.

After a few seconds later, I heard the pulsing heart just as loud as before. But even more importantly, I actually heard its approach just before it… got into position. Torn between horror and amazement I just stared at the two men.

Still I was afraid and Jack knew it. He asked Nathan to leave and wait in the hallway, which he did.

After he left Jack turned back to me and smiled. “I know you think he’s a vampire. That’s why I asked him to leave. That way you can be sure that he hasn’t hypnotized you into believing what Brian and i are about to tell you. In a way, your suspicion is partly correct. But I want to ask you, could such an undead creature physically move the location of its heart?”

I thought about all the movies and stories I’d read. If vampires could do such a thing, killing them would be much harder, nearly impossible. Finally, I shook my head.

Jack smiled reassuringly. “But what about a man who never died, but wound up sharing his body with a life-form which requires him to take in blood as part of his nutritional requirements?”

That made me raise my eyebrows as I found my thinking in terms of science fiction instead of horror stories.

As I did so, Brian chimed in saying, “The life-form also allows him to alter his shape and even move and change his organs around.”

What followed was the most amazing story I’d ever heard in my life. I won’t go into details here, because I know others in Nathan’s ‘Extended Family’ have already shared it more than once. And they, and their descendants will be the only ones to read this, so I don’t need to go into things further. Besides, I’m here to share my experience.

After Brian and Jack finished telling me all about Nathan and some of the things he could do, I simply lay there for a few moments taking it all in. If just half of what they had told me was true, then he might be able to help me once more.

“Should I ask Nathan to come back in?” asked Jack after a few moment.

I nodded ever so carefully. My heart beating with anticipation.

TO BE CONTINUED…

The Artist – August 2009 Part III

Of course the accident happened shortly after that and I wound up in the hospital. And as you know I received dozens of visitors who constantly reassured me that everything would be all right. Such words and sentiments were always welcome and helped make the day pass more easily.

But night-time was another matter. Everything would be quiet, aside from the staff making their rounds. Occasionally one would wake me up to draw blood or give me my medications, but for the most part I was on my own with only my thoughts for company. That’s when dealing with my situation became much harder.

That’s when all those little fears we keep hidden away come out to plague us. And believe me I had a lot of them which kept me company for hour after hour. Most of them involved not being able to use my hands to sculpt. I won’t tell you how many times I wound up crying myself to sleep, but it happened a lot. I tried to keep quiet about it (which should have been easy with my mouth wired shut), but one person found out.

I woke one morning to someone gently dabbing the sides of my eyes with handkerchief. It was Brian. Dr. Jack Tyler, my physician and our mutual friend, had allowed him in before visiting hours had officially begun. Jack had noticed the tear soaked tissues before and had tried to draw me. I would’ve have loved to have told him what was wrong, but first and foremost he was my doctor. A doctor in frequent demand so we kept getting interrupted. After a while I just stopped trying.

Luckily, Jack is someone who doesn’t give up easily, especially when you’re his patient as well as his friend. So he’d gone out of his way to get Brian here to make sure they found out what was troubling me. By this time I was able to make some sounds, but understanding me was not easy. Yet somehow we managed.

 As it turned out, both of them suspected I was worried about my works in progress back at the studio. With this in mind, Brian had gone to check on things for me. He even took photos on his phone and shared them with me.

While I was relieved to see everything was still untouched, a part of me felt guilty at the same time. Seeing my kiln just sitting there waiting to be filled, or my tools just hanging on their hooks, they it all looked so lonely. Then I saw the piece of my grandfather, still wrapped in the plastic just as I’d left it. That’s when the tears began to flow.

It took Jack and Brian some time, but they managed to understand to get the full story out of me.

The date of the exhibition, which was still going to happen, was also my mother’s birthday that she shared with her father. It would have been his 108th. I had secretly been planning to have his sculpture to be the centerpiece of the show, as well as a gift to both my mom and his memory.

Once they understood, Brian exchanged a look with Jack who nodded. Then he turned back to me and said, “Don’t worry, it’s going to be all right. Just trust me.”

In spite of the fact that I had absolutely no idea what they had planned, something about Brian’s tone was extremely reassuring.  After that, they talked about their families and kept me amused for another half an hour. By then I was feeling tired again and managed to drift off without the help of medication for a change.

The rest of the day passed as all the others had, medications, smoothie meals, and television. There were a couple of more visitors, but it’s what the night brought that I really want to talk about. Or rather, who it brought.

I’d been listening to an audiobook with my eyes closed, so I never heard my visitors arrive. It wasn’t until Brian gently tapped my shoulder that I realized anyone had come. Looking up I saw him and Jack smiling down at me. Then from behind them Nathan popped his head out and waved at me.

Unable to help myself, I shuddered.

TO BE CONTINUED…

The Artist – August 2009 Part II

The piece in question was a full-bodied statue of my mom’s father who had passed away the year before at the age of 107. And believe me the man had led an impressive life having served not only in WWI but also WWII. Now some of you who know me might be thinking ‘Wait, I know you’re like only 29. So just how old was he when your mom was born?’ Well my mom was from his second marriage in 1948. My grandmother was younger than him and gave birth to my mom seven years later.

Now, getting back to the sculpture, when I say full-bodied I don’t mean it was man-sized. It was only  between 18″ and 24″ inches in height. I had thought about doing a bust, but she had always been proud of the fact that he had served in both world wars. But it was his service in World War I that she had always impressed her the most. Seeing photos of him in his uniform back then, so young and full of hope and purpose, had really made her see him in a different light. 

I know he saw a lot back in the Great War, as they originally called it, but what always impressed me the most about him was the fact that he enlisted again when the Second World War began. He once told us that part of the reason he did was because he knew a lot of young men who weren’t prepared for what they might face. He himself had barely been sixteen when he’d enlisted, lying about his age to be accepted at the recruiting office. And as I said, he saw a lot. He was wounded more than once too and was involved in some of the more famous and fiercest battles including the Hundred Day Offensive.

Looking back, I think that may have actually been the real reason why I chose to put him in his first uniform. Seeing photos of that fresh-faced innocent who would face horrors time and again, and still be willing to help others face new ones, really helped me understand the man I knew and loved.

Anyway, having a specific image in mind I got work in my studio and began the project.

I was well into the sculpt, having already gotten the shape and pose just right, when a prominent gallery wanted to showcase my work. The timing could not have been better. The date set for the opening would be just perfect to unveil my grandfather’s likeness before my mother, our friends, and so many others. Needless to say I went back to the piece with even more enthusiasm. I was calling upon every technique I could think of get everything just right and it was paying off.

Hour by hour, I could see my grandfather’s spirit taking shape in the piece. I was so pleased that I didn’t care if I never made anything as close to perfect as it. But there was still a lot to do when I left my studio that afternoon. As much as I wanted to keep working, I had to get downtown and meet with a gallery owner (not the one who was going to hold the exhibition). I remember putting the plastic over my work in progress to keep it moist, silently promising I’d be back soon. Only I wasn’t.

In fact it would be weeks, and merely days before the exhibit, before I’d step foot inside that studio again… at least physically.

TO BE CONTINUED…

The Artist – August 2009

When I was a child I thought of angels as beings with huge white wings and cherubic faces. But now I know they come in many different shapes and sizes. I met a great many of them back in the hospital, for which I am forever grateful. But there is one in particular, who I wish to talk about right now. He is someone I’ve known almost all my life, who left me deeply frightened because I saw him drinking the blood of another like a fiend from an old Hammer Horror movie.

Admittedly, the one he took the blood from had kidnapped me along with my friend Brian, we were both children at the time, but seeing your rescuer seemingly turn from angel to an avenging demon left me rattled for many years after.

I hadn’t understood back then that Nathan had simply come to save us and had seen things inside that warehouse that neither Brian nor I had. I still don’t know all that he saw, but I do remember his clothing looking torn as if he’d been through hell before reaching us and our captor. There was no blood on him at the time, but I didn’t know his body could absorb blood from his clothing. But even that wasn’t enough. I know now that he had lost a fair amount of blood just trying to reach us.

However, that’s not something I want to talk about right now. Yes, I can talk properly again. My jaw is finally healed. I can even use my own hands again, even if they don’t quite feel the same.

I keep fearing that they may have lost some of their dexterity from before the accident. But that doesn’t seem be the case. I’m still able to do my art and everyone tells me I’m as good as before, possibly even better. Yet, it doesn’t quite feel the same. Maybe because the clay feels different to me these days, although I think that’s partly thanks to Nathan. Perhaps he’s helped me in more ways than even he realizes. However, I’m getting ahead of myself.

I don’t remember much from the accident, it all happened so fast. Hell, there wasn’t any warning like the sound of tire trying to screech to a halt, just an impact and my world flipped… and pain. That’s all I can remember. When I fully regained consciousness I was in a hospital, my hands in bandages and unable to move my jaw even though I wanted to scream. The sight of my hands all wrapped up like that, even before anyone said anything I just knew it was bad… REALLY BAD! They were my livelihood, my ‘special voice’, the things that created things I couldn’t always find the words to say to express how I felt. To have them silenced along with my actual voice, was more of an agony than the pain I was already in.

I remember trying to ask what happened, over and over again, but with my jaws wired shut I didn’t know how to make myself understood. Everyone kept telling me to blink once for ‘yes’ and twice for ‘no’ then began asking me simple questions, but they took so long to get to what I wanted to know. I almost wished they’d never got to that point.

I’d been hit by a drunk driver, T-boned to be exact. His SUV had got me just behind the driver’s door, otherwise I might not be here. But the impact had been strong enough to send my little bug rolling and into a pole. Needless to say, he’d walked away without a scratch in more ways than one. The bastard was rich and got off with house-probation, although he was made to pay for my medical expenses. Not so much by the court but by ‘someone’ else as I later found out. But more about that later. The jury also hit him with pain and suffering pretty heavily, but his lawyers were pretty slick and seemed to be swaying the judge to their way of thinking. Then all of a sudden the man  called for an adjournment for lunch, even though it was only 10:30 in the morning. When the court resumed he slammed the guy with the full amount the jury had recommended, and even tacked on a few more expenses for my attorneys and loss of income.

Naturally, the guy tried to appeal it. But he lost again… twice. After that he suddenly stopped trying and just paid up. How did this happen? The same way I got saved all those years ago from the creeps who kidnapped me and Brian. And for that I will always be grateful, but not nearly as much as for what he did when it came to the piece I’d been working on at the time of the accident. The piece that meant more to me than any other…

TO BE CONTINUED…

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

Lisa’s Private Thoughts – Nov. 26, 2009 – Thanksgiving With Uncle Nathan – Part II

Now, the sight of a roasted turkey, with no head, getting up and shaking a fist was weird enough.  But watching it grab one of the nearby carving knives and taking a dueler’s stance took it to a whole new level of silliness.

Even before Uncle Nathan reached for the other carving knife, the rest of us automatically took several steps backwards, away from the table.  We all knew what was coming and didn’t feel like getting caught in the middle of what was undoubtedly going to be a memorable battle.  Man and roast bird saluted each other with their weapons, followed by each taking a dueling stance.

“I knew I should’ve left you in the oven for another ten minutes, you over-sized chicken,” Uncle Nathan grunted, while parrying an attack.

The turkey, unable to speak, merely flipped him the bird in return.  Then it retreated across the table and waved its backside at him.

Looking properly offended, Uncle Nathan muttered, “Oooo… I’m going cram an onion the size of a bowling ball in you for that.”

Our intended dinner responded by making the ‘Bring it,’ gesture.

Leaping up onto the table Uncle Nathan rushed towards his opponent across the length of the table and their carving knives clashed once again.

For the next minute, man and dinner, battled across the table in a remarkably silly yet athletic duel, while managing to avoid knocking over candelabras or glasses, or even stepping on a plate or utensil.

I glanced over at Dr. Jack and my father who were both shaking there heads and trying to suppress smiles, as their wives gave each other resigned sighs.  Meanwhile Joe and Darlene, who hang out with me at school, were both enjoying the spectacle as much as I was.

Finally, my mother steps forward and puts her hands on her hips.  Then she yells, “No feet on the dinner table!”

Both bird and man freeze in mid-fight.  The two of them stare at her for a moment and then take very guilty stances and point at each other.  “He started it,” Uncle Nathan murmured, while his opponent took advantage of the moment to slap the knife out of his hand.

Immediately, our host, did a double-back flip off the table and retreated behind the nearby harp.  His opponent beat its breast in triumph and leapt after him, waving its weapon angrily.  Now began a game of cat and mouse, with Uncle Nathan using the harp as a shield.  At first the roast bird, tried chasing him around the harp, then it tried to stab at him through the strings, which proved to be a mistake.

Uncle Nathan kicked the weapon out of its grip and then pushed the harp down on top of the bird.  The strings of the harp sliced through the bird, leaving it carved in pieces on the floor.

Straightening up, Uncle Nathan looked at his handiwork and shook his head.  “Wow, the guy at the butcher shop told this bird might be a little tough, and he wasn’t kidding. Okay, who wanted white meat?” he asked turning towards us.

Naturally no one spoke.  We all just glared at him.

“Oh come on, how many times do you get to have dinner and a show?” he insisted.

At this point I saw the green mist slipping out from the remains of our ‘dinner’ and into the cuffs of his pants and knew what was really going on.  Stepping over to where the harp lay I took a close look at the ‘remains’ and saw the that the bird had actually been made of foam, covered in latex and painted to look like a roast turkey skin.

“You didn’t get a turkey did you?” I said pointedly.

Uncle Nathan bowed his head and said, “They were all sold out by the time I got back this morning.”

“This morning?” I cried in disbelief.  “Where were you?”

“I was out of town, sort of…” he began, when a loud boisterous voice, with a thick German accent, rang out from the area of the kitchen saying, “Happy Thanks-Pizza everyone!”

A moment later, a short stocky man with a graying beard and moustache appeared pushing a cart with the biggest pizza I’d ever seen on it.  He was wearing a chef’s hat and moving around so quickly, it took me a moment to recognize him.  His name was Professor Otto Hofstadter, and he was one of Uncle Nathan’s closest and oldest friends.  They’d known each other for years, according to Uncle Nathan, but there was always something about the way he said it that had made me wonder if there was more that he was not telling me.  But now was not the time to ask questions.  Dinner had arrived and everyone was starving.

My mother shook her head as we all sat down around the table and said, “Well, it might not be a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, but at least we’ll all be eating well.”

“On the contrary, my dear,” the professor corrected as he and Uncle Nathan started serving huge pizza slices.  “I made sure that we used turkey sausage as part of the toppings.”

“Oh well, that makes all the difference,” said Dr. Jack as he helped pass the food around to those farthest from the pie.

A part of me wanted to ask where they’d gotten an oven big enough to cook a pizza this size, but I decided not to.  I was more interested in knowing where Uncle Nathan had been and what had kept him away all this time.  The fact that Professor Hofstadter was with us, told me that an adventure had taken place in one of those strange places Uncle Nathan has always hinted at, but has never fully explained to me.

I decided there and then that I was going to keep a close eye on those two and maybe follow them if possible and see what they got up to when the next opportunity presented itself.

*This concludes this year’s Thanksgiving tale.  I hope you all found it amusing and entertaining.  May all of you have a Happy Thanksgiving and may all your travels be safe and enjoyable — Allan and Helen Krummenacker* 

Lisa’s Private Thoughts – Nov. 26, 2009 – Thanksgiving With Uncle Nathan

*A quick note from Allan: My sincerest apologies for not doing more on the stories these past few months. I’ve been busy with learning and creating audiobooks, as well as doing book covers, reviews, and book trailers for Helen and others. However, you will be pleased to hear that Nathan’s books are among those being turned into audios as I write. One or two short stories will be appearing here soon in audio form so you can get a taste of what’s to come. Also, work has been continuing on the sequel to “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” which is currently being titled “The Vampyre Blogs – Family Ties”. Helen and I have a number of surprises for Nathan and you all, so please stay tuned. In the meantime, here’s a little Thanksgiving story I created 3 years ago. We hope you enjoy this tale that shows just how crazy things can get around the holidays… especially if you hang out with Nathan*

THANKSGIVING DAY 

I think everyone has memories of certain holiday gatherings that they’ll never forget.  Usually it’s because something really special or very unfortunate happened.  But how many of us can say they’ll never forget a certain Thanksgiving dinner because the host wound up fighting a duel with the intended dinner?

Well that’s what happened this year and I don’t think I’ll even need to watch the video I took of it, to help me remember.  However, I will be saving it to show any children or grandchildren I have down the road, so they can see what craziness can ensue when you let Uncle Nathan try to prepare a holiday dinner.

It all started about a week ago, right after Mom gave birth to my new baby brother Geoffrey.  I was on hand for the event, while Dad and Uncle Nathan stayed in the Waiting Room.  Mom had given strict instructions that neither of them were allowed to be on hand to watch.  In fact part of my job was to make sure they didn’t come in.

I asked Doctor Jack about it later and all he did was smirk and mumble something about a Dr. Quackenbush and associate, who had been on hand to help keep the patient relaxed.  The name sounded familiar to me so I Googled it afterwards on my laptop and found it was one of Groucho Marx’s personas from a movie called “A Day At the Races”.  Apparently, he’d played a veterinarian who also treated a rich woman as one of his patients.  Having seen Uncle Nathan’s Groucho impression I could only imagine what kind of nonsense he and Dad must’ve gotten up to inside the delivery room that day until Mom ordered the two of them out.

Anyway, right after Geoffrey arrived, Uncle Nathan offered to host Thanksgiving over at The Crypt.  “Between late night feedings and changing diapers I don’t think any of you are going to be up to shopping and prepping a big meal,” he pointed out.

Needless to say, none of us disagreed with him.  He even invited Dr. Jack and his family to join the festivities, which my favorite physician readily agreed to.  We didn’t see or hear from Uncle Nathan again for the rest of the week, which made my parents wonder if dinner was still on.  Then last night he phoned to let us know he’d been called away to help his old friend, Professor Otto Hofstadter, with a little ‘problem’ which they’d successfully resolved, and that we were still expected the next day at 5:00 PM.

Needless to say we left the house today and headed downtown.  Once we reached the building that housed The Crypt, we headed down the side alley where the stairs leading down to The Crypt awaited.  Dr. Jack and his family were just heading down the steps when we showed up and after the usual Thanksgiving greetings were exchanged, we all carefully made our way down the steps.  The door at the bottom was unlocked so we let ourselves in only to have our breaths taken away.

As usual, Uncle Nathan had really gone all out with decorating the place.  There was a huge table that could seat a couple of dozen people just on one side, in the center of the main room.  It was all decked out with candles, plates,fancy napkins, the works.  There was also a very expensive looking harp nearby, which meant we would probably be treated to some fine music afterwards.  As we all gazed around in wonder, I couldn’t believe he’d gone to so much trouble just for us, but I was glad at the same time.  “This was going to be one of the most memorable Thanksgiving dinners ever,” I breathed aloud, while everyone nodded in agreement.

Uncle Nathan appeared a moment later, wearing a white apron and a big chef’s hat.  After greeting each of us, he got everyone settled in and disappeared back to the kitchen area.  We were all excited and eager to see what he had prepared for us.  A moment later, he came back out carrying a huge glimmering silver platter.  Naturally it had a very shiny lid which was rather tall, leaving us all wondering how big a turkey he had gotten for the occasion.  However, knowing his sense of humor, I I half expected it to be a very small bird no bigger than a pigeon,  But much to my surprise and delight, when the cover was removed, there was indeed a very large bird on the platter.

After running back into the kitchen and returning with more dishes, he removed his hat and apron, and proceeded to brandish a very large fork, which he deftly sank into the turkey.  Only to have the bird jump up, remove the fork from itself and then waved an angry fist at him.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Halloween Fright – by Helen Krummenacker

*Today’s offering is from our anthology “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time”.  This is the first time this story has ever appeared on this blog. We have plans for other Halloween tales involving not only Nathan and friends, but other characters from “The Bridge” and “The Ship” in the near future. But for now, please sit back and enjoy a spooky little tale from Lisa and Marisa’s childhood days, which hints at a future story set in modern times down the road. Helen is the sole author of this piece and I think she did a great job capturing the fun and innocence of childhood and trick or treat.*

OCTOBER 31st, 2007

     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 stay together, not go into any houses, and stick to familiar streets. And Marisa 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. Marisa’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 Marisa, 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!”
     Marisa 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.
    Marisa 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 Marisa 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 Marisa. “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 their 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?!” Marisa whispered, worried.
     “A drop of cold water. It fell off 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,” Marisa 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 Marisa’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 Marisa. “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 Marisa 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 traveling 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 Marisa to stop.
    “Are you okay?” they asked each other at the same time, then laughed a little, still nervous but feeling reassured by friendship.
    “I’m okay,” Marisa said, “but she sure made a monkey out of you!” They laughed again.
    “We’re both fine,” Lisa said bravely. “I mean, so I was wrong about no ghosts, but she was a kid, like us. Just a kid…” she sounded sad now, because she thought she might know who the girl had been. A girl who had died from illness, months before the massacre. But then, why would she be looking for her family?
    “Hey,” Marisa said as she saw tufts of grass sticking through breaks in the thin asphalt, “I think the main road turned and we missed it. This doesn’t look right.”
    Lisa thought the same thing, noting that the hill rising to their right was just off the shoulder of the single lane, instead of beyond beech trees. “I guess we ended up on the road they used during the war when they were moving out coal.”
    “You like history a lot, don’t you?”
    “I like knowing why things happened. Roads don’t build themselves, and they don’t start falling apart if people want to use them still.” She had her mouth open to continue, but a weird deep rumble came from the ground to the right, ahead of them. “I don’t know what that is,” she said.

    Some muffled booming sounds followed. “It’s real,” Marisa said. “If there’s a mine here, it sounds like it could be ready to collapse.” They craned their heads to look down a shallow curve of road, to where the mine main shaft entrance was. An old metal elevator stood there, dim in the dark, before suddenly being lit from below with an orange glare. A plume of black smoke rose. There was another rumble.

    “Fire!” They agreed. Marisa was the first back on her bike this time. “We need to go back and tell someone!”
    They rode as fast as they could, legs getting sore. It wasn’t like the panic when the ghostly voice had spooked them. Rather, they had a purpose, because the mine should be abandoned, but what if some homeless people were using it for shelter, or some teens had set up a makeshift haunted house. There had to be a reason that the mine had suddenly caught fire, and it could be that someone careless had lit a candle or something down there, forgetting that gasses or coal dust could catch fire easily.
    When they got into town, Lisa’s parents were nearest, which was good because they knew the way. The girls were all for calling out the fire department right away, but the town was very small, so Mr. and Mrs. Weston insisted on going to check on the fire for themselves. “It might have just been something like a will-o-the-wisp near the surface,” Lisa’s dad said as he bundled them into the car. “Or a prank from some teens. There’s likely to be enough trouble-making tonight, so we don’t want to draw in emergency services if it isn’t necessary.”
    Much to the confusion of the girls, when they arrived at the mine, the light had gone out. Mr. Weston killed the car engine and they sat in silence for more than a minute to be sure there were no strange rumbles or percussive noises. “What,” said Mrs. Weston at last, “made you think this would be funny? You did say you’d stick to familiar streets.”
    “Technically,” Lisa ventured, “the main road out of town isn’t unfamiliar. I mean, we’ve been out this way before. And we only came this way by accident, because the ghost scared us so bad I just fled without paying attention to where. It wasn’t Marisa’s fault, either; she was following me because I knew the way and had glowsticks on.”
    “Now it’s ghosts?” said her dad.
   They knew then that further attempts to explain would just dig them deeper into trouble. The Westons took Marisa home in their car, and Mr. Weston had a word with her father while she was told to go get ready for bed.
    The next day was a school day (another reason it had been a bad idea to go off looking for adventure instead of sticking to the plan to trick or treat), and Lisa and Marisa were even more eager to get together and talk than ever. First, they wanted to compare memories of the night before. Had they heard the same thing from the ghostly voice? Did they both see the smoke, a pillar of it, filling the mine entrance and briefly obscuring the fire? Had they both still seen a ruddy glow, even through the smoke?
    They wished they could go back out there by day and check to see if there was fresh soot or something to verify their story. But that was impossible. Marisa’s bike was still on Lisa’s lawn, propped against a tree, and they were both grounded at least until the weekend. Furthermore, there would be no trick or treating for them next year.
    “Dad says,” Marisa told Lisa, “that he’s going to personally supervise me next year, and I’m not going anywhere. He says it’s going to be a black and white horror movie marathon for us.”
    “My folks,” Lisa said grimly, “won’t let me go anywhere unless there’s going to be an adult present at all times. And it has to be one they know.” She wondered if Uncle Nathan would come if she asked him to. But he moved around a lot so she didn’t know how to reach him.
     “Good thing,” said Marisa, with a sly smile, “that they know my dad.”
     “Oh?”
     “Because he was only a little mad, and he says we can have a sleepover.”
     This time, their unison scream was a happy one, even if it made the whole cafeteria stare.

 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!