Penny’s E-Diary August 11, 2016 “She’s Back” – Part II

I escorted Nadine to the kitchen and got her settled into a chair at the table. Surprisingly, she barely uttered a word the whole time I made hot chocolate. Only after I put it down in front of her, did she finally look up.

hot+chocolate

“Thanks,” she smiled and inhaled the aroma deeply. Immediately, her shoulders relaxed along with the rest of her. After a few moments of silent bliss, she caught me grinning. “What?”

“Never underestimate the power of chocolate, Sweetie,” I told her and took a sip from my own cup. Damn I make good hot chocolate, even if I do say so myself.

That made her smile.

“So,” I began, “You said you were doing research. Come to any conclusions yet?”

A serious expression crossed my companions face as she gave it some serious thought. Then she took a deep breath, declared that men are misogynistic ass-hats and that she was never letting Isabella out of the manor ever again. Then she went back to drinking her hot chocolate.

I just stared at her for a few seconds before saying, “Number one: congratulations on coming to that conclusion. Number two: as far as never letting your sister out of his manor again, do yourself a favor and don’t even try. Because knowing that little girl the way I do, I can tell you right now it ain’t happening. And controlling, over-protective behavior can be the very thing that makes girls rebel and put themselves in danger.”

I expected Nadine to sigh, but instead she groaned and began gently head-desking the table.

“You must have had one hell of an evening tonight.”

“Not just tonight,” she corrected. “Ever since I dealt with the Cannibal Killer, I’ve been going out like this at least once or twice a week.”

My curiosity was piqued. “Why?”

“Because of some of the reactions I got when I went after that psycho,” she replied, tucking some of her long blonde locks behind one ear.

Leaning forward I gestured for her to continue.

“I never told you or the girls at the time, but I spent a whole day in that town looking like this. The idea at the time was to observe what kind of reactions I got from other people, hoping our killer might give himself away. Of course, he was already hiding in the park and never laid eyes on me till I pulled him off the girl he attacked. But that’s not to say I didn’t get a few reactions during my walk.”

“With looks like yours, I’m not surprised,” I remarked.

“Thanks,” she smiled, but I could see it only partly reached her eyes.

“How did it feel,” I asked after a moment.

“Kind of flattering at first, but also kind of uncomfortable on a sort of subconscious level,” she answered, shifting in her seat as she spoke. “I was so focused on my mission I never really gave the feelings any thought at the time. But when I got to the bar where I was to meet Michael, I started thinking about it.”

Bar scene

I didn’t say it aloud, but I already had a pretty good idea of what was coming. Sure enough, her next words proved me right.

“I barely sat down at the end of the bar when some guy suddenly appeared at my elbow leaning in and asking me what I was drinking,” she said with more than a touch of annoyance in her voice. “And before you say anything, no it was NOT the bartender. But the thing that bothered me the most was the fact that he was supposedly talking to me, but I could actually feel the vibration from his voice hitting me down here,” she added, pointing at her chest.

As tempted as I was to say “no surprise”, I kept quiet and listened as she continued.

“And let me tell you, he was like practically six feet tall,” Nadine continued. “And here I am like 5′ 4″ and he’s talking to my cleavage. I mean my God, if he was bent over any further, he could have passed for The Hunchback of Notre Dame’s better looking cousin.”

I leaned back in my chair nodding. I could tell already that this was just the beginning…

TO BE CONTINUED…

Penny’s E-Diary August 11, 2016 “She’s Back” – Part I

       If anyone had told me two years ago I would one day be married, have a child, and be living in a big old mansion, I’d have told them to quit snorting the white powder. Of course, there’s no way they would’ve have known a man who’d fought in the Civil War, and was for all intent and purposes a vampire, would be partly responsible for all of this. It still seems like some weird dream, or like I stepped into the Twilight Zone, but it’s all real. And I’m truly happy about it.

     Not that things don’t get kind of bizarre on a semi-regular basis. Take tonight for example, my baby boy had been fussing and feeling poorly lately. So I took him to Dr. Jack a couple of days ago, who said it was an ear infection and gave me instructions and a prescription for it. Of course, this means I’ve been keeping odd hours at night to administer the medicines. Needless to say my he wasn’t happy when I woke him up to administer more medicine and it took me a good hour to get him back to sleep. Richard offered to take over for me, but I insisted. He even offered to keep me company  while I walked our boy back to sleep. He’s really turning into a great dad. And as much as I appreciated his offer, I sent him back to bed. He’d had a really long day already, plus sometimes a girl wants to deal with things on her own. My home life had been pretty messed up and I didn’t want to make the same mistakes as my so-called parents. The moment I knew I was pregnant I swore to do a lot better than them, and I like to think I’ve been succeeding.

      Anyway, I’d just put my little boy down again and realized I was a bit hungry. Looking over at the clock on the night table I saw it was only 1:30 in the morning. Not too late for a snack, I thought and headed downstairs.

      I’d gotten halfway down the  staircase when I saw the front doors open and a young woman entered. In the dim lighting I couldn’t make out the features and thought it must be either Marisa or Lisa my two, much younger, best friends. Both of them are barely twenty but in spite of a decade difference between us we’re tight. They love hanging out with me and both of them are great with the baby. The two of them also have the hots for Nathan, the Civil War veteran/vampyre I mentioned earlier, who owns this big old mansion. He’s also one of the best friends/guardian angel any of us could ever ask for.

      I know Nathan gave both girls their own key, so naturally I thought it must be one of them. Upon seeing that our late night visitor had blonde hair, I figured it must be Marisa (Lisa’s a brunette). Then realizing what time it was I immediately started hurrying down the rest of the stairs thinking something bad must have happened.

     “Marisa?” I called out only to have our guest look up.  It wasn’t Marisa, instead it was someone I hadn’t expected to see again anytime soon. “Nathan… I mean Nadine?” I stammered for a second.

      Okay, now I’m going to take a step back for a moment and explain a few things. Like everyone else who knows about Nathan being a vampyre and keeps an e-journal, blog, or an e-diary, these entries I make are set to private. Only someone knows, or will one day know, about Nathan gets to read them. We do this because we want to keep our memories and experiences with him alive even when (God forbid) we can’t remember, or are no longer part of this world. Although in the former case I don’t think we’ll ever fall to dementia or Alzheimer’s because Nathan wouldn’t let that happen. He’s got abilities like you’ve never seen and although he can’t hold off death (except for maybe himself), he’s learned to use them in so many ways to help people. And  want these memories to be available for my son and his children so they know what a difference this man has made, not only my life but other peoples’ as well.

    One of Nathan’s more fascinating abilities is of course shape-shifting. But unlike what you see in the movies where a vampire simply turns into mist, or a bat, or some other animal, he’s taken this ability to a whole other level. He’ll alter parts of his body, like turning just his legs into individual puppy dogs to play with Lisa’s little brother, or alter his facial features to look like another person. However, even more impressive is his skill at changing his entire body  into that of a very attractive woman. Mind you, Lisa, Marisa and I had a hand in his learning how to do it convincingly. The three of us gave him some serious coaching just two months ago when he was helping hunt down a cannibalistic serial killer.

     The result was the creation of ‘Nadine’ the female persona he was wearing tonight. Upon seeing ‘she’ was back my first thought was, ‘Oh dear God, don’t tell me was there another maniac on the loose?’ It must’ve shown on my face, because he/she… dammit, I’m going to call Nadine a she for this entry, mainly because she didn’t change back to normal all the time I was with her.

      Anyway, Nadine smiled as if she’d read my thoughts and said, “It’s okay, Penny. I’m not on a case or anything like that. I’ve just been doing some… research of my own.”

     “Thank God,” I sighed and looked at her again. I have to admit, the girls and I had done a damn good job on teaching Nadine how not only how to look but act like a woman. Even as we were talking, the mannerisms and way she held herself was just right. Which puzzled me even more.

     Had ‘Nathan’ taken a liking to being a woman sometimes or was there something more going on here? She had just mentioned something about research, so I asked, “Trying to find out how the other half lives?”

       “In more ways than one,” Nadine sighed raising a tired hand to her head.

      I knew that tone and the gesture. I’d seen and done it myself more times than I’d like to count. Putting an arm around her shoulders I said, “Let’s go to the kitchen and I’ll make us something and you can tell me all about it.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

Private Journal of Doctor Jack Tyler December 29th, 2012 “The Haircut” – Part II

            Darlene rolled her eyes at her brother and sighed, “I don’t know why he’d need a haircut. Does it really matter?” Then before he could answer, I saw her expression change. “Actually, that is a pretty good question. Dad…?”

            Holding up my hands I said, “Don’t ask me, I’m just here for Nana’s cookies and hot chocolate.” I wasn’t about to admit that I’d never really thought about it myself.

            Just then Nathan, who was not three feet away, turned to my grandmother saying, “You know I could’ve sworn I’d walked in with a bunch of people, was I just imagining things? Or did I suddenly turn invisible?”

            I watched her pat his arm and say, “No, you’re just getting to that age when everyone thinks you’ve gone deaf or your mind has gone wandering and you aren’t paying attention. I get that a lot.”

            “Not from me!” I called out loudly.

            Nathan looked around, “Did you hear something?”

            “Aw it’s just this old house creaking, or my joints, one or the other,” Nana told him.

            “Must be the house,” he assured her. “I told your dad when he was building it to use hickory but as he pointed out it was more expensive and harder to get here in Connecticut.”

            Nana laughed as she led us down the hallway.

barberspole

            There was an old barber pole on the wall, next to the door that led downstairs.

            My grandfather had been the town’s barber for over sixty-five years, before he finally ‘retired’. The shop was still in business but being run by one of my cousins who specialized in not only classic haircutting, but the more modern ‘faded’ style as well. I myself spent a lot of time in grand-dad’s shop when I was a boy and people often thought I’d follow in his footsteps. In reality, I was studying how he interacted with his customers since he always had a way with them. I learned an awful lot about putting people at ease and drawing them out from watching him, which has been a great asset to my medical practice.

            I slipped past Nathan as we reached the door to offered Nana my arm which she accepted, then we all headed downstairs.

            “Here we go through ‘Dr Who’s Tardis’ again,” I heard my son Joe murmuring behind me, only to be shushed by his sister saying, “Oh, shut up, I like that show.”

            “That’s just because you think the current one is cute,” he shot back.

            Glancing over my shoulder I saw Darlene make a face, “Ew… I’ll take David Tennant over him any day of the week. I mostly like the companions, especially Amy…”

            At that point Nana chimed in with, “I still prefer Tom Baker myself.”

            That earned several groans from the rest of us, although deep down I had to admit she had a point. He was a master of comic timing and seriousness when it came to the role of the Doctor. I would’ve said more but we’d just reached the bottom of the stairs and my grandfather’s ‘shop’.

            Even though my dad, Nathan, and I helped set the place up for him, I always found myself transported back to my childhood every time I came down here.

the-bookcase-and-barber

           One wall of the room was dominated by a large mirror, with shelving covered by numerous barber implements, stood before two chairs that had come from the shop itself. There was also a small flatscreen television staring down from above the mirror. In short, there were also other chairs and tables around the room, but to all intent and purposes, the place was a mini-barber shop. This had been my grandmother’s idea after a number of former clients kept pestering her husband for haircuts because he was the only one who knew how they liked their hair done. Plus, they missed having their regular bull sessions with him.

            But most of all, she knew my grandad missed keeping busy.

          My grandfather was lounging in the older of the two chairs, when we came down. Getting out of one of the chair, where he’d been reading the paper, he stood up. “About time you got here Nathan, I was about to…” he began then spotted me and my family. “Oh good, lord you brought the entire crew with you. Looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me tonight.”

          TO BE CONTINUED…

        *Author’s Note: Sorry for the short entry. I was working on it this past weekend and had to go to get some routine lab work done (which took a couple of hours… groan). Plus family and a bad cold took more out of me.  Didn’t want to leave you all with nothing, so I figured a short entry was better than nothing, especially when I’m trying to do at least at two entries a month. To be concluded in two weeks… unless the story decides it wants to be longer.

Private Journal of Doctor Jack Tyler December 29th, 2012 “The Haircut” – Part I

Cheryl and I took our kids, Joe and Darlene, to visit my grandparents at their home this evening. They only live on the other side of town, but with the snow on the ground walking with two teenage grumbling the whole time would’ve tested the patience of saint. It never ceases to amaze me how after spending all day out in the cold with their friends, our children can be all set to head outside once more in spite of the dropping temperature as soon as they finish eating dinner. Their energy and enthusiasm seems limitless. At least, until we remind them they’re supposed to go somewhere with us.

In that moment, all life seems to suddenly evaporate from their bodies and they’re too tired to go anywhere. Or they’ve just remembered an important paper they need to do for school which requires them to stay home, and maybe have a friend or two over to assist them in their research. It is a condition that we in the medical profession have yet to fully analyze and come up with a name for it. I have on more than one occasion considered preparing a paper on this phenomenon for publication. However, the thought of spending hours trying get teenagers, who are NOT mine therefore I have no authority over them, to answer even the simplest of questions quickly cures me of such urges.

Well, after reminding them of how often they’d assured us that they were fully caught up on all their schoolwork, and that we’d discussed the visit several times earlier in the week, they finally went to fetch their coats. I swear it was like watching a the old television series, “The Six Million Dollar Man” or “The Bionic Woman”, where the heroes are filmed in slow motion when they’re supposed to be moving inhumanly fast. Only in my kids case they really were moving that slow, it took them almost a full fifteen minutes just to find their coats and another five to put them on.

Anyway, we finally got them out the door and on the road. We were just pulling up to my grandparents place, when we saw a familiar figure knocking on their front door. It was Nathan.

From the backseat I heard Joe say, “Since when does he know Great-Nana and Great Pop-Pop?”

“Um… I don’t know, maybe because he’s been watching over our family for generations like he told us back in September,” Darlene shot back, in a sweet-sarcastic tone only a sibling can deliver. A second later, she was out of the car dodging snowballs from her brother who’d raced after her.

All of this happened before I’d even killed the engine of the car, leaving me once more to ponder that paper about energy levels in teens. Perhaps I could just try an observational study? I turned to Cheryl who I noticed already her seatbelt unbuckled but hadn’t even opened the door on her side. “Is something wrong?” I asked her.

Turning she gave me a look of disbelief. “I’m not going out into the middle of those two having a snowball fight.”

A second later, a rogue snowball struck the window, followed by a muffled, “Sorry Mom,” from our son Joe. His aim has never been great when it comes to throwing, which is why he’s never made it onto the school baseball team. Darlene on the other hand has a wicked throwing arm from two seasons on the softball team. Which she proceeded to demonstrate by nailing her brother while he was a distracted.

Joe quickly retaliated with a rare well-aimed shot at his sister, who barely managed to dodge the attack unlike my grandmother who had just come out onto the steps to greet all of us.

Thank God Nathan was right there. He could’ve easily just caught the snowball, but it would’ve exploded in his hand, showering Nana in the process and he knew it. So he good-naturedly stepped in front of her and took the hit, which almost knocked the long stocking cap off his head. I saw him say something to my grandmother and then he turned on my offspring yelling in his Groucho Marx  voice, “Of course you realize, this means war!”

However, before he could reach down to grab some snow, Nana tapped him on the shoulder and said something to him. Of course I couldn’t hear from inside the car, but I saw him straighten up and give a dramatic sigh indicating hostilities would remain on hold.

At that point, Cheryl finally opened her car door and stepped out. I quickly followed and joined her and our children who were already greeting their great-grandmother.

Nathan was standing respectfully to the side and I joined him.

“Nice kids you got there, Jack,” he remarked, still in his Groucho voice. Taking off his hat and shaking the snow from it, he continued, “Attacking bystanders like that. What’s this world coming to? Don’t answer, I’ll tell you what it’s coming to…”

I was thankfully spared the rest of his performance by Nana’s voice calling out, “Nathan! Joseph’s expecting you downstairs in his ‘shop’. You know he doesn’t like to be kept waiting. And it looks like he may have some other customers who need haircuts as well.” That last remark was aimed at my son, my grandfather’s namesake. Then I noticed she was eyeing me as well.

“I think we’re expected,” Nathan observed in his own voice, and I nodded.

As we followed my grandmother inside, I heard my son saying to his sister, “Wait a minute. With all the things he can do with his body, why does Uncle Nathan need a haircut?”

TO BE CONTINUED…

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“The Snowman”

December 2014

by Helen Krummenacker

         A chilly December evening was made cozy not only by the fireplace, but the scents of vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger from baking in the kitchen. Marissa turned the radio to a station playing all Christmas music. Isabella was excited even beyond the average child at Christmas time, for this was her first Christmas tree, her first time seeing fairy lights, and even the radio was a novelty for her. She would sit on the sofa, stare at the tree and get up again every few minutes to better distribute the ornaments for color balance and even presentation.
    Marissa and Lisa were helping Nathan with paper chains, a decoration he remembered from his childhood. The girls were using a ladder to reach high, but Nathan took care of sites out of their reach. Otto, having recently surrendered the kitchen to Penny, who was making a couple of her own favorite treats, had started to show Richard how to wire pine and holly into swags to place around. “So ‘Boughs of holly’ are just branches done up to decorate the place?”
        “Yes. Deck and decorate have the same word as a root.”
      “Ain’t that something. I always wondered about that song. Especially the gay apparel.”
        “That meant jolly, bright colored, festive.”
      “And that makes ‘Johnny Comes Marching Home’ a lot better,” Richard laughed. The professor was all right by him. Strange and a little weird how he treated the boss like a kid sometimes, but when he was around, you always felt a little bit smarter.
      Just then, a new tune came on the radio. “Frosty the snowman, was a jolly, happy soul–”
    “Turn that off!” Otto snapped. Isabella looked at him in shock a moment before heading to the radio and pushing the big circle button she’d learned made these new electric things go on or off. “I’m sorry… I just do not like that song,” he explained, suddenly aware that everyone was watching him, puzzled by his uncharacteristic change of mood. “I really do not like it. You would not like it, either, if you knew how dangerous that snowman could have actually become.”
        “Wait, Frosty was real?” Marissa asked skeptically.
     “There are more things on heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” quoted Otto, then sighed. “Yes. Frosty was real, and he was the result of my missing an important detail and behaving carelessly.”
        “Story time!” Lisa called out.
       “Oh, yes, we have to hear about this,” Marissa added.
       “Really?” Otto asked, as if surprised by the attention.
       “Even I haven’t heard this one,” said Nathan, “and it sounds like a doozy.”
       Otto took a seat on the sofa, next to Isabella, and the others gathered around. Richard kept at it with the greenery, but still cocked an ear and moved so he could see Otto’s face and gestures. Taking a deep breath, the professor began to tell the tale in a rich, melodic voice…

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Our first anthology:

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“The Vampyre Blogs: Coming Home”

-Including guest appearances by characters

from our other Para-Earth titles

“The Bridge” and “The Ship”

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