This blog is a compilation of short works of fiction by Allan and Helen Krummenacker, authors of the Para-Earth Book Series. The stories contained here take place before our novel "The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home", with the idea of introducing you to some of the characters who appear in that book and the upcoming anthology "The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time" coming this November. So please, sit back and enjoy more glimpses into Nathan's (our vampyre) and his friends' lives.
I have to say, the folks at the airport did not waste any time trying to get me indoors and away from the ‘creature’. They were so quick, I barely got a chance to look over my shoulder and catch one final glimpse of Nathan in his Man-Wolf form as we got close to the door of the terminal. Unfortunately, one of my ‘rescuers’ caught my backward glance and also spotted him. Next thing I knew, he was yelling to the other around me and a couple of them were armed with rifles.
Now I want to point out that no one in my family hunts, so I had no idea just how loud a gun sounds when it’s fired. I now understand why people wear those hearing protectors that look like headphones. Damn, those things are loud. My ears were ringing and I could barely make out the sound of the airport around me. Hell, I could hardly hear a plane taking off. Luckily, one of the men who had opened fire was right next to me, and I could barely make out his shout of, “I hit him!”
For a second my heart skipped a beat, then I remembered they were talking about Nathan not someone in a costume. Surely the Sangui-Sapio inside Nathan had protected anything vital. I know from past experience that it always does. Even if Nathan had been hit bad, the Sangui-Sapio would have either moved the organ in danger to a safe spot, or created a secondary version of whatever had been injured to keep him going. From what Otto has explained to me in the past, if healing could not take place, the new organ would simply replace the original which would simply be broken down and absorbed on a cellular level into the rest of the body. I swear, even knowing as much as I do of what that Para-Earth entity can do, I’m still in awe of it.
But I didn’t have time to dwell on either Nathan or the Sangui-Sapio. My ‘rescuers’ were busy hustling me past a crowd of lookie-loos who had gathered by the doors leading outside, trying to catch a glimpse of the action taking place outside. Of course, there were a number of podcasters, and Tik-Tokers on hand who tried to get close and ask me and the security people questions about the creature and my encounter with it.
Apparently, Nathan and I had put on a real good show, or someone had spotted the poor wolf itself. In either case, I was now a news story. Yay me!
Anyway, security took over and had quite the time spiriting me away from the crowd. They wound up leading me to an out of the way office on the main floor far away from the crowd. After getting me a cup of coffee and making sure I was unharmed. Once I assured them for the 12th time that I was fine, then one of the men started asking me what the hell I was doing out side the terminal in the first place? Didn’t I know that area was off limits to anyone but airport employees?
The more he spoke the more he was getting himself worked up. He was shouting now, and several of the others in the room were looking more and more uncomfortable.
That’s when I decided to draw on some of what I had learned in the theater classes I took with Lisa during our last year of high school. Every, time the guy started raising his voice and getting in my face, I started cringing and flinching. Finally, I practically burst into tears and began babbling hysterically. I wound up telling him I’d never been here before and that I had taken a wrong turn trying to find my way to the ladies’ room, because it was that time of the month and I wound up going through a door that led outside which locked behind me…
That was more than enough to get the “Spanish Inquisition” off my case. He backed off and ordered someone to ask one of the female employees to get me whatever I needed, then exited the room himself. Once a woman came in with what I ‘needed’ the others exited the room to give me privacy.
As soon as they left I went over to the one window in the room. From there I could see what was happening outside. Clearly, the hunt for Nathan was still on. I could see bobbing flashlights and brief silhouettes of his pursuers in the distance, beyond the parked planes. I opened the window to see if I could hear anything of what was being said, but it was too noisy out. As I began to close the window I could hear some kind of report coming from over a radio nearby.
It seemed to be coming from the other side of the door to this room. Forgetting the window I sneaked over to the door to listen. Apparently, a security guard had apparently been assigned to keep the ‘paparazzi’ away from me, and he was currently listening what was going on outside over his shoulder radio. From what I could make out, one of the rangers had been knocked down by the wolf-creature, which had then stolen his rifle and taken off.
I frowned at that. It had to be Nathan’s doing, but why? Were they getting too close? Had he been hurt by one of their shots? Maybe, they had caught a glimpse of the real creature and were taking aim.
It sure as hell couldn’t have been the wolf who had stolen the rifle. It wouldn’t know the first thing about guns, aside from possibly knowing they were dangerous in the hands of a human.
Suddenly, I heard a clattering noise right behind me and whirled. There before me was the Man-Wolf, while at my feet lay the rifle.
I swear I didn’t know whether to be surprised or terrified at that moment. But when it spoke, I nearly burst into tears. For in very broken English it said, “End… me… please…”
I recognized the tone in Marisa’s voice and knew she was being completely serious. So, I immediately looked in the direction she was pointing. Sure enough, standing there amidst the trees across the road, was our quarry. It was still in its wolf/human form. As we watched, the creature kept switching its gaze from Marisa, then to me and back.
“It must’ve sensed your presence,” Marisa murmured.
I nodded. “The Sangui-Sapio we share is calling out to itself. I felt he was near while I was still on the plane.”
Marisa shot me a puzzled look and I quickly explained what had happened. “I see,” she nodded when I finished and glanced back at the creature across the road. “But why is it choosing a humanoid shape? I would think it would hunt better in its own form.”
“That’s got me puzzled too,” I confessed and told her about the dreams I’d been having. “So, when I saw the article, I knew I had to come. I think the poor creature is stuck and can’t shift back to normal.”
“Do you think the Sangui-Sapio is responsible?” she asked, then frowned. “No that doesn’t make sense. You’ve always told us that the only times the Sangui-Sapio has ever altered your form shape without permission was to keep you safe. Otherwise, it never tries to interfere or takeover.”
“I know, that’s what got me confused,” I told her.
“Not as confused as this poor thing,” Marisa replied and proceeded to cross the street.
Naturally I immediately followed, all the while saying, “Marisa what are you…” Then I stopped myself. The wolf-creature was coming out from among the trees. Its body language was neither hostile or threatening. If anything, it seemed drawn to her somehow…
And of course, that’s when everything went to hell!
A passing car’s headlights illuminated the wolf who was completely clear of the trees just then. The sound of tires screeching to a halt, told me that the driver had spotted the poor misshapen animal. Before I could even think, Marisa began shouting at the wolf to take off which it promptly did with amazing speed.
I think I was the only one not surprised, but that was because my keen eyes saw the animal’s mismatched limbs suddenly shortened or stretched until they were the same length, allowing it to move with a speed only I could match. Not that I did of course, not with the Ranger right there.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the vehicle that had come to a halt was a modified pick-up belonging to an Alaska Park Ranger. The driver was already leaping from his vehicle holding a rifle when the beast disappeared from sight.
Unfortunately, the wolf had not bolted back into the woods as I’d hoped. Instead, it shot across the road and disappeared between the shadowy buildings of the airport before any of us knew what was happening.
At that point there was only one thing I could think of doing. I straightened up and did my best impression of Bull Shannon from the show “Night Court” and said, “Ooooo-kay,” in his voice.
I knew he was one of Marisa’s favorite characters from the show, but if you had seen the look she gave me you’d have thought I’d done an impression of Dan Fielding, the sleezy lawyer, instead.
“Seriously? Is that all you’ve got to say at a moment like this?” she demanded, while pointing behind me.
I quickly got what she meant, because I could hear the Ranger reaching for his radio. I immediately pointed at him and shot my mist in his direction. I wasn’t able to stop him from getting a few words out saying he’d located the creature, but I did manage to get him to tell them to search in the opposite direction from where the animal had fled. I also got him to completely ignore us and take off in the wrong direction.
“Better?” I asked Marisa, only to find she was already crossing the road again to get back to the airport.
Catching up with her, we’d just reached the edge of the buildings where we’d last seen our quarry in time to hear shouts and running feet. This time I was the one to spot the animal, darting between a couple of hangars. Without pausing, I picked up Marisa and raced towards the buildings. To anyone watching they’d have just seen a blur shoot past, since I wasn’t holding back on the speed. And as for the snow on the ground, I can run on top of it, which meant no trace of our passing would be found.
As soon as we were in the shadows of the building, I put Marisa down and we both started scanning the area for our friend. But because this was real life and not a Disney or Hallmark Channel story, all we could see and hear were people screaming and scrambling away from the tarmac. Although I had gotten the ranger and his friends heading in the wrong direction, the animal had clearly been spotted by people who were now surging towards terminal to escape and raise the alarm.
As we stood there, we could see security armed with rifles were already pouring out of the terminal and nearby buildings.
“This is not good,” Marisa muttered, looking around for our friend. “And I don’t see him anywhere?”
Neither could I, but I knew he was still near. But with security already spreading out to search I didn’t have time to try and zero in on him. But I did know where he definitely wasn’t. “I’m going to lead them off, keep an eye on my stuff, please,” I told Marisa.
Before she could ask what I meant, I began misting out of my clothes and let them hit the ground. A moment later I solidified a few feet away not as myself but as the ‘werewolf’.
Gesturing with my snout at the security guards I gave her a wink.
“Okay, but you be careful,” she whispered and then let out a bloodcurdling scream that got everyones attention. Immediately, I bolted from our hiding spot and onto the tarmac, pausing briefly to make sure I was spotted before trying to get away from the terminal area. I purposely alternated running on two feet, then all fours, so as not to discourage pursuit. After all, the whole idea was to lead them away from the area where we knew the creature was.
Glancing over my shoulder I saw a number of security officers giving chase, as well as a couple who were ‘tending’ to Marisa who was putting on quite the damsel in distress act. They were leading her into the terminal where she would be safe. Or so I thought. Like I said before, this wasn’t a Disney or Hallmark movie…
After a five-hour drive to Columbus Ohio, and now coming to the end of a 12+ hour flight, I’ll be touching down in Fairbanks very shortly. Isabella tried getting Otto to come with me, but I pointed out that this was more of a solo trip. As knowledgeable and talented as Otto is, I’m the one who has more of a direct connection to the wolf. The recent dreams have proven this to me, and even this high up, I think I can feel the gap between me and the errant Sangui-Sapio shrinking. Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking. I’ll know for sure once we touch down.
The flight crew are asking us to shut down our electronics. I’ll take this up once I’m back on the ground.
Three hours later…
Okay, so much for my ‘solo’ mission. Apparently, Isabella has been acting as the eyes and ears for Lisa and Marisa without my knowledge. How did I find out? Well, coming off the plane and finding Marisa at the gate holding up a sign that says, “Congratulations on your sex change, Sis… er Bro!”, which included a photo of me in my ‘Nadine’ persona, was a huge hint. You see, I’ve only ever let Isabella take photos of me in that form, so I knew it had to have been her doing.
I was tempted to walk in the opposite direction, only I had this horrible image of Marisa running after me yelling, “So? How’s the new plumbing working out?” I know how tenacious she can be. So instead, I simply walked right up to her and said quietly, “Thanks for going the sibling route, instead of something like, ‘Congratulations on the sex change, Honey. When do I get to try out your new equipment?’.”
She laughed and said, “Ooo… I’m saving that for next time.”
“Me and my big mouth,” I murmured as we headed for the baggage area. “So, how did you land all the way up here. I thought you were riding the rails with our Karneval Schatten friends?”
Karneval Schatten, as the name implies, is a traveling carnival made up of people and beings from various Para-Earths who at one point or another found themselves stranded in this world. By traveling and presenting themselves as performers, they’re able to hide their ‘strangeness’ from the folks of this world. And like Otto and me, they seek out incursions from other Para-Earths and try to return any creatures/beings land up here. If they cannot return the ‘visitor’ to their reality, they will add them to their ranks if possible. However, in cases where the intruder is hostile or more dangerous, they will contact me or Otto to help contain the being.
They travel by an unusual train which can actually travel through various Para-Earths and reappear in this world at a variety of select locations that act as beacons for them. Just don’t ask me for the mechanics of how the train does it because I have no idea. Nor do my carnival friends to be honest. They ‘borrowed’ it from another Para-Earth traveler, who had been gathering and imprisoning them (and eventually me) for purposes I’d rather not go into right now.
Damn, just thinking about that day still makes me shudder. I swear if it hadn’t been for Brandon Elliott, and his grandson Peter, God only knows what might have happened to us and this world.
The rest of my reverie was interrupted by Marisa.
“Once I heard you were coming here, I asked them to drop me off,” she explained, brushing a stray blonde hair out of her face and back into the hood of her parka. “I was ready to head home anyway and figured I could catch a lift back with you after we find your… friend.”
I halted in mid-step and frowned at her. “My sister sent you the article too?”
“No, I found it,” she laughed, “Who do you think sent it to her the others in the first place?”
Eying her curiously I asked, “So, you’ve been keeping an eye out for possible ‘incursions’?”
She nodded. “Incursions, strange phenomenon, sightings… after all I need material for my children and Young Adult ‘fantasy’ books don’t I?” Then she bumped me with her hip saying, “Unlike some people, I don’t have over a century and a half of life experience to draw upon.”
“Touche’,” I conceded. “When are you going to finally try releasing one of them?”
“I want to have a good number of them completed first in case I hit a dry spell so I can keep releasing stories in a timely manner. That way the audience doesn’t wind up getting frustrated that it’s taking so long between books,” she replied as we started walking towards the carriage area again.
“How many have you got on hand?”
“Five, but I want eight at least before I start publishing.”
“Eight?” I frowned as we reached the baggage carousel. “Why so many?”
“That way I can safely put out two per year with plenty of room for travel or…” she paused to snatch my bag which had just appeared on the conveyor belt, “Life getting in the way for a good four years.”
I had to admit she had a point. I often wished I still had a few books set and ready to go some days. But ever since I moved back to the family mansion, I’ve had a number of distractions (which included her and Lisa) to deal with. And this ‘werewolf’ business was only the latest.
As we made our way out the doors of the terminal I could see how much snow had fallen recently. Marisa must’ve noticed it too and promptly huddled closer to me as we walked through the parking lot. Since she is almost as tall as me meant she could rest her head on my shoulder, and promptly did so.
“You didn’t by chance rent a car, did you?” I asked.
She shook her head. “I caught a taxi and came right here. Besides, I wasn’t sure if we’d need a car, skis, or a snowmobile.” Here she paused and looked at me, “Then again, we could just rent a dogsled and tie you to the front. You’re so strong we wouldn’t need a full dog team.”
“You just want an excuse to get a leash on me,” I blurted and instantly regretted it.
“Well now that you’ve brought it up…” she began.
“Uh-oh,” I muttered, looking up. “It’s starting to snow again.”
Marisa frowned, “So? I thought you loved the snow?”
“I do, but with it falling that means no moon or Northern Lights to help us find my ‘friend’ as you call him,” I explained and looked around. I blew out a breath. “I’ll have to reach out mentally to try and get an idea…”
Otto raised one bushy eyebrow and asked, “Nathan, what did you do? Come clean, now.”
“I got hurt during a hunt,” I replied distractedly, as I pulled up a new tab on the computer and began searching for the nearest flight to Alaska. There was one leaving that evening from Columbus, Ohio. I could easily make it if I started getting ready right away. Booking a seat on the plane, I got up and began making for the door only to find both Otto and Isabella blocking me.
“You do know I can easily mist past the two of you,” I pointed out.
“Are you so sure?” asked Otto, pulling out an oversized fireplace bellow. It took me a moment to realize the bellow he was holding was the one I kept next to the fireplace. As usual, I never heard or saw him grab it. He’s a sly one, let me tell you.
Knowing the clock was ticking for me to get to Ohio I told them, “Fine, follow me upstairs and I’ll explain while I pack.”
That got them to let me pass, and the three of us headed upstairs. I told them all about my visit with my friends in Fairbanks and how I’d headed for the Boreal Forest after leaving them.
As we reached my bedroom Isabella headed straight for my closet and pulled out a couple of suitcases, one of which was almost as big as her. Not that she had any trouble handling it. Since I accidentally infected her my Sangui-Sapio (a story for another day), she has the same strength, speed, and weaknesses I possess. And although she has the body of a child, unlike me she has been growing at the normal rate of any 12-year-old girl. Though I suspect, that like me, this will slow down considerably once she reaches adulthood.
In the meantime, Otto urged me to continue my tale and I complied.
Since they already know about my tendency to ‘go native’ when I’m up in Alaska, I was able to gloss over that part quickly. Finally, I got to the part about meeting up with the pack of wolves, and how I’d won their confidence with my mist trick.
“Since the hours of night are so long at that time of the year, I wound up staying with them almost a week,” I explained. “Since we were making kills pretty regularly, there was plenty of blood to keep me sated. Plus, it was pretty cloudy at the time, and we were keeping under the tree canopy a lot, which made things even easier for me to stay in wolf form.”
“Sounds like you were having a lovely time,” Otto nodded pleasantly, as he sat on my smiling. “So, when are we going to get to the ‘Oops’ part of your story?”
I stood there holding a stack of underwear in my hands, and just stared at him. “What makes you think there’s an ‘Oops’ part coming?”
“Because it’s clear from your reaction to the article that you suspect you accidentally infected one of those wolves with your Sangui-Sapio companion,” he answered calmly.
“Psychology?” I asked.
Otto shook his head. “No, more like I know that look you get whenever you’ve goofed something up,” he teased, then his expression became serious. “So how did it happen? You’re usually very careful about not ‘sharing’ your gifts.” His eyes darted to Isabella ever-so-briefly before looking at me again.
As I mentioned before, infecting my sister had been an accident. It had happened back in 1863, shortly after the Sangui-Sapio and I had formed our bond. I hadn’t learned about the mistake until decades later, mistaking her for a ghost at first.
Anyway, I resumed my packing and my tale. “It was the last night I was with the pack. We were hunting bison. Shortly before I met the pack they had lost both their alpha and beta leaders. With me appearing on the scene, they’d had more successes with their hunts and were beginning to eye me as a new leader. Too many failed hunts and they’d be in trouble. Luckily there was one young male who was showing a lot of promise and I was trying to support him, so to speak. Follow his lead and all, kind of thing.”
“And how did he take it?” Otto inquired.
“He wasn’t exactly thrilled about me, but he knew I was effective in helping bring down prey so he tolerated my presence. But during that last hunt, errors were made. He wanted us to go after one of the younger bison. Unfortunately, I could tell already that the herd was keeping a very good defensive ring around their young. No matter how much the pack harried them, they wouldn’t break rank. That is, except for one older bull who at that point was wide open.”
As usual Otto was already ahead of me, saying, “Let me guess, our young alpha saw this as an opportunity to firmly establish himself as leader. Am I correct?”
I nodded. “Oh yeah. Mind you he was a good hunter, but I could see he was going to be seriously outmatched.”
“So, you jumped in to try and help him?” my sister asked.
“That had been the plan,” I winced, “I didn’t want to make him look bad, but I knew he couldn’t take that bison alone. So, I zipped ahead and challenged the big bull myself, giving the alpha a clean shot at the throat. Unfortunately, the bull was faster than either of us expected and he gored me something fierce, got my blood all over his face and neck. A second or two later, the alpha nailed him in the throat and the three of us went at it. The pack arrived moments later, attacking the bull’s rear and sides. And that was it for the bull, we brought him down. But looking back, I suspect that some of my blood was on the bison’s throat where the alpha struck. Which means it didn’t return to me when we called my blood back.”
“You called your blood back?” Isabella repeated with a frown.
“Whenever I bleed, either me or Sangui-Sapio can call the blood I spilled back into me through the skin. Unless something prevents it from reaching me, like being ingested for instance,” I explained.
“Like the Cannibal Killer you fought three years ago?” Isabella continued.
I nodded. That guy had lived up to his name and had taken a bite out of me, along with a chunk of the Sangui-Sapio. He’d been injured in our fight before he bit me. And since the Sangui-Sapio’s first instinct is to preserve life, it went to work pretty quickly on him, making the guy nearly as strong and hard to stop as me.
As if reading my thoughts Otto spoke again. “If this is indeed the case with the wolf, why is the creature taking a humanoid shape? From what you’ve told me in the past, the Sangui-Sapio normally just adapts to its new host’s form. It only tries to shapeshift the body briefly, in or to protect or help the new host. Otherwise, the host appears to be normal. Yet, according to the article, the creature seems to have taken on a humanoid shape and was having rough time of it. Now, why would a wolf do that?”
Once more I thought back to the dream. In it, I was having trouble keeping my wolf form. “I don’t know,” I replied, finishing up my packing. “Which is why I have to get up there as quickly as possible, before that poor creature accidentally winds up infecting another animal or even a person.”
Upon reaching the bottom of the steps I could hear Otto, Penny, Richard and Isabella in the study laughing about something on the internet.
“Well that certainly makes a change from Abominable Snowman sightings,” Richard was saying.
“Maybe it’s a Wendigo?” I heard my sister chime in, “They travel with the snow!”
“True, but I have never heard of one that far north,” Otto’s gentle bass voice pointed out.
Intrigued, I did a 180 and headed for the study instead of the kitchen. Coffee could wait, this was sounding interesting.
Upon entering the study, I saw that they were all gathered around the computer on the big desk where I work on my novels. There are two computer monitors, which makes it easier for me to do research on one while I work on my story on the other. At this point though they had the story on only one screen and their heads were all in the way, so I couldn’t see what they were looking at.
As I strained to look over their heads, Penny suddenly said, “You’re up early, Nathan.”
I did a doubletake. She hadn’t even turned around to look at me. And I know I didn’t cast a reflection on either monitor. I swear the woman has developed some kind of “Mom Radar” ever since she gave birth to her son Richie Jr. four years ago.
Then again it may just be a survival tactic she developed growing up in Detroit. She doesn’t like to talk about her childhood. But one time she did tell me you needed to have eyes all over your head to survive not only the neighborhood, but the apartment building you lived in too.
Before I could respond to Penny’s observation Isabella spoke up again. “Lisa’s visiting some museums over in Charleston for one the college classes she’s taking, and Marisa’s travelling with our carnival friends. He doesn’t have any reason to be tired enough to stay in bed.”
At that point Otto looked at me and waggled his bushy eyebrows at me saying, “You poor boy.”
Ignoring these little jibes at my expense, I finally got to see what was on the screen. It was clear from the headline what movie they got their inspiration from.
“An American Werewolf in Alaska?” I read aloud incredulously.
“I know,” cried Penny turning to me. “Alaska has been part of the United States for decades, so of course any werewolf that turns up there is going to be American.”
“I would have gone with ‘Red Fang’ myself,” added Otto.
I stared blankly at him for a moment, which earned me an eyeroll from my oldest friend.
“What?” I cried, wondering what I’d done this time.
Richard came to my aid. “He’s making a joke off of the title ‘White Fang’. You know, the novel by Jack London that takes place in Alaska?”
“Never mind, Richard,” Otto told him, “Apparently, he doesn’t read modern books.”
“Modern!” I exclaimed, “That was written in 1906. If that’s modern, what do you consider ‘classic’?”
Otto simply shrugged, “The Bible, the Vedas, Ovid’s Metamorphases…”
“The Dead Sea Scrolls, anything you were able to check out of the Library of Alexandria…,” I supplied helpfully.
“I wish,” he sighed.
Laughing I excused myself and went to get some coffee. Otto is way older than me, yet in spite of our being friends for the last 120+ years, I still don’t know exactly how old he really is. Oh, he claims he’s given me plenty of hints over time (which I know he has), it’s just… I have a problem with numbers. It’s called Dyscalculia, which is a kind of dyslexia only with numbers instead of letters, which throws my calculations off whenever I’m doing math. I barely passed my classes at the universities, which made me kind of blase when it comes to doing casual math problems, outside of research or for a class.
Heading back to the study, I found only Otto and Isabella were still there. “Where’d Penny and Richard go?” I asked.
“To wake Little Richie up from his afternoon nap,” Isabella answered, then turned back to Otto asking, “If the creature is real, do you think it might be another Para-Earth incursion?”
“It’s possible, but none of my calculations predicted an opening taking place in that area recently,” he replied.
This piqued my curiosity and I slid into one of the chairs vacated by Penny and Richard, in order to check out the article. There were a few photos, but since they were taken at night, so the lighting was not great.
Heck, I’ve seen photos of Bigfoot (which never do him justice, FYI) that were more recognizable. And that includes the fuzzy grainy shots like this one.
Turning to my old friend I asked, “Otto? What did you mean when you said you’d have called this article ‘Red Fang’?”
“Well, if you read the article, you’ll find out,” he replied curiously.
Obediently, I did as he instructed. The description of the creature varied somewhat from witness to witness. However, they all agreed it looked humanoid with tufts of hair on its back and misshapen limbs. According to those who got a better look at it, one or more of the creature’s limbs was longer than the rest, which made it hard for the thing to get around. Perhaps that was why it seemed to vary running on two limbs and then all four. However it was only towards the end of the article that two people described the creature’s coloring not as reddish, but red. Almost blood red, to be specific. Looking back to the title of the article, I saw that the encounter had taken place on the outskirts of Fairbanks.
I suddenly found myself thinking back to the dream, and now an uneasy feeling was sweeping over me.
As if knowing my thoughts, Otto observed casually, “Of course, the creature could have made a kill and was simply covered in the blood of its victim.”
I shook my head. A century and a half on this, and a number of Para-Earths, has taught me that if something seems ‘sus’, then it probably is.
Just then Isabella said, “The article said this wasn’t the first sighting of the creature. There have been reports of a red wolf type of creature being spotted as far back as April. You were in Alaska back in January? Did you see the creature while you were there?”
At that moment I remembered a particular incident that had happened during my visit. “I think, I might have…” I replied.
Hello everyone, I hope you’ve been enjoying the stories shared here for the past few months, even if they are re-runs so to speak. Still, I’m hoping that they have been new to a number of our visitors.
I’m popping in today to give you all a heads up as to what’s been happening for me. I’ve been going through procedures for a back and leg problem, and have another one scheduled for tomorrow. Hopefully this one might be the ‘silver bullet’ that corrects the problem. If not, then the doctors are going to have to look into some more invasive procedure options to alleviate the pain which should then allow me to return to work and being more mobile.
In the meantime, I have just about wrapped up my “A Christmas Carol” project, which will be made available to all for free over on YouTube. This will be an unabridged reading of Mr. Dickens classic tale, complete with images from Wikimedia and other public domain sites. The only thing I have left to do for each chapter is record an opening and closing where I will be discussing the novella as well as the importance of Mr. Dickens work at the time of its release. I’ll also be briefly exploring themes and why ghost stories were associated with Christmas even before the novella was ever created.
In the meantime, we have another spooky holiday coming up next month and in celebration of the season I wanted to let you all know that I am preparing a werewolf story involving Nathan and Marisa in Alaska.
So I hope you’ll keep visiting this site as my goal is to get the tale written within the next week or two while I recover from tomorrow’s procedure. My intention is to have the entire story written and then break it up into as many installments for this blog, with the finale being released on October 30th.
Until next time, take care and stay safe everyone.
As I sit here typing my mind is still in a whirl. The idea that something I’ve written is actually getting published seems unreal. Then again a lot of things I’ve done in my long life feel that way.
The first time I stepped out onto a stage in vaudeville to play a part in one of the Marx Brothers routines I felt the same way. I’d been helping out in their rehearsals and knew the routine by heart, so when Gummo wasn’t able to appear with his brothers one night, I was drafted then and there. I’m proud to say that I did not suffer stage fright, but that was mostly because I had Julius, Arthur and Leonard with me. I knew they had my back and I wasn’t about to let them down. In a way, it was like being back in the Union Army, where I knew I had a bunch of guys watching out for me just as much as I was keeping an eye out for them. When we finished our routine they made sure I took a bow with them. After that I started finding myself on stage a number of times with some of the other acts who knew me pretty well.
But I digress. As my second semester taking writing classes was drawing to a close, one of my instructors urged me to try and submit a few of my short stories to a few magazines for publication. This was in March and I trusted my instructor’s judgement and with their help I prepared a cover letter, synopsis and a sample of one of my stories. Needless to say the results were pretty much what I half expected…
Not to say I wasn’t a little hurt, but my instructor was like, “Good, now you’re really on your way to being an author.” Needless to say I gave her a very curious look, but nodded and kept trying. Within weeks the responses, or rather more rejections, came rolling in…
Yet in spite of this, Brian, his family, fellow students, and even other members of the English and Literature faculty kept urging me on. So I kept at it. Finally, yesterday, I got a response from of all magazines Playboy, who wanted to publish one of my stories. It was one I submitted on a whim to their college fiction contest last year. I didn’t win mind you, but one of the editors kept it on file because he thought it was really good.
In any case, somehow they were looking to fill space and he remembered my story and contacted me saying they wanted to run it. Naturally I said yes so next month, my first published short story will be coming out in Playboy Magazine. I’m hoping the readers like it, or at least those who read Playboy for the articles, all of two of them.
Still, to have my first published story appear in a magazine of that caliber is an honor. I’m hoping it will help springboard me into other publications or at least get my name out there. Or rather my pseudonym Daniel Bachmann. Bachmann was my mother’s maiden name and Daniel was my grandfather’s name. Too many people out there know or heard of Nathaniel Steward over the last few decades who don’t know my secret. So a fake name just seemed more appropriate on this occasion.
So my first published work will be sandwiched somewhere in between naked women and… now I’m jealous. Time to head out and enjoy some nightlife. I hear there’s plenty of great places here in London, and the lights at night are beautiful. Who knows, I might get an idea for a few more stories. Yup… I’m a writer all right. Always thinking about the next tale.
It’s been two days since my last entry. I had expected copying the letter I’d left Isabella to be hard, but not like that. I should have known better. Father told me in one of his letters that Isabella had kept my note on her nightstand to look at every night before she went to bed. I had made her a promise that she had hoped I’d be able to keep, in spite of all the news that came back from the front lines. I had always been able to keep my promises to her. No matter what the odds were, I always found a way to fulfill them. Which was probably why she was still clutching it in her hand that December night when…
I’m getting ahead of myself again. There are more letters and journal entries that must be copied and saved, but not tonight. Something happened after I left here the other night, that I need to follow up on.
You see, after Brian took the letter away to clean it, I left and began wandering the streets. I don’t even remember what I saw or whether or not I passed anyone as I walked. I just had to keep moving. At times I ran, even though there was no one chasing me. It was foolish of course, one cannot can run from memories of guilt, pain, or loss. Especially not when you’ve had a hundred and fifty years to accumulate them, and God knows how many more decades ahead to add to them.
Probably that was what my brain was telling me when I finally came to a halt. Back when I still had a breath to catch, I’d probably have been bent over trying to do just that. But not these days. Instead, I simply stood there taking in my surroundings, trying to figure out where I was. Imagine my lack of surprise when I realized I was standing in front of my old homestead. Perhaps the old saying you can’t run away from the past is more accurate than we think.
I stood there for several minutes staring up at the old manor. Time had not been kind to it. Probably because no one has lived in it since the 1970’s, when the last of a series of relations tried inhabiting the place passed away. After she passed on there was no one else to take over the place, so it became another forgotten edifice from a bygone era. I could have come forward to try and claim the place, but there would be awkward questions about my lineage, Especially since I’d had myself declared among the fallen back at Gettysburg during the Civil War. But that’s another story.
Anyway, I felt compelled to enter the old grounds. I did not go inside the building itself, I rarely do these days. Maybe it’s seeing how time has and has not touched the interior. Oh, the wallpaper has faded and peeled in many places. Yet, a lot of the furnishings are still there, untouched, preserved by yellowed sheets that have accumulated layers of dust. On the shelves sit figurines and books, untouched and forgotten. As if waiting for someone to brush away the cobwebs and clean them off to they can be admired once again.
The portraits still hang in the gallery beneath dust cloths, their colors preserved and vibrant thanks to being spared and denied the light. Forgotten and unappreciated works of art by some of the most skilled painters of their time.
Why has no one ever gone inside and tried to steal any of the these forgotten treasures, I do not know. Perhaps, some of the rumors of the place being haunted have a ring to truth to them? I wouldn’t put it past some of my ‘nephews and nieces’ to have come up with story of the place being inhabited by spirits. They probably even played a few tricks to help reinforce the idea. Heaven knows the number of times they’ve begged me to claim my old homestead and live here permanently, so I can be close to them. Generation after generation have made this plea, and I always refuse.
Not that the idea isn’t tempting. But as I pointed out in my last entry, the longer I stay in one place, eventually tongues wag and trouble follows. I couldn’t bear the idea of the place and all the things within, being destroyed. I know time will eventually take its final toll, which is why I helped Brian’s father create the museum forty years ago. My goal was to slowly remove the more valuable and treasured items from here and transfer them into the museum for safe-keeping. Yet, every time I go inside the old place, I cannot bring myself to remove even a simple knick-knack. It always feels like someone is glaring down at me with disapproval.
I did not enter the house, that night. Instead I walked the overgrown path towards the family plot which sits a back in the trees behind the house. There was once a little chapel as well, but that fell during the ‘Night of Fire’, along with my parents and our servants. Again, another story, for another time.
The family plot is surrounded by a wrought iron fence which is only a few years old. The original had long fell into disrepair and I’d had it replaced, with a new one that still had the old world look to it. Oddly enough, the new gate creaked like its predecessor. I could have had it fixed, but the sound seemed appropriate somehow.
So when I heard it groaning in the distance I new we had visitors. Normally, it would be one of my extended family, but not at three in the morning. Besides, I’d already caught a whiff of smoke in the air. No, these were most likely unwelcome guests. And as the only liv… still walking member of the household, it was up to me to greet them.
My footsteps become silent, even thought I’m walking over layers of dried leaves from autumns long past. Not only do I make no sound, there are no imprints to mark my passing. I’m still not sure how I manage this little trick, it just seems to happen whenever I go into stealth mode. Even after one hundred and fifty years, there are questions I have yet to answer about my condition.
I turn the corner and see three figures entering my family’s resting place. Young would-be toughs. I’ve seen countless numbers of them over the years. The costumes may change, but the attitudes and arrogance is always the same. I’m tempted to wait and get an idea of what kind of mischief they intend to get up to. But I already hear the rattle of a spray paint can coming from one of their pockets, while another starts brandishing a crowbar. The third kicks an old white stone I know so well. It belonged to William, our butler. It strikes me as disrespectful to see someone of African descent violating the grave of one of his own kind.
I decide to make my presence known. “If you’re not here to pay your respects, I suggest you take yourselves elsewhere and find some other form of enjoyment,” I say loudly.
I won’t bother repeating the profanity they shoot in my direction. Needless to say, it was followed with threats against my person if I didn’t start running. Naturally, I did not retreat. I merely stood my ground and repeated my request in the form of a warning this time.
The one with crowbar was the first to start walking towards me. He was white, about sixteen, with all the swagger and arrogance of someone who’d watched way too many ‘Gangsta’ films. I kind of felt sorry for him, which is probably why I didn’t kick the living shit out him like I wanted. Yes, I do curse and swear with the best of them. However, I was also raised to be a gentleman and as such I refrain from using unnecessary violence when a simple scare can be far more effective.
He was about twenty feet from me when I smile at him, put my hands in my pocket, and then and look down at the bottom of the jacket I’m wearing. It goes all the way to the ground, similar to the style of coats back in my day. It’s a style I’ve always been partial to and have kept using throughout the years. Though I make sure the cut and collar are always in keeping with whatever the ‘modern day’ trends are of the time.
In this case, my coat has what’s called a Mandarin or Banded collar, which I leave unbuttoned as is the custom these days.
I glance up at him and smile. This enrages him and he gets even more angry, which pleases me. Anger can be your worst enemy sometimes. While it may give you an adrenaline rush and maybe add a bit more to your punches, it can also make you careless. He obviously has not noticed the movement taking place at my feet.
He soon does though. The first dog head slips out from beneath my coat when he’s just ten feet away and growls. That catches his attention.
It throws him for a second and then he laughs, “Oh you got a dog, huh? You think he’s going to stop me from cracking your fucking skull open? You a dead man, you here me?”
Then the second head emerges from the folds of cloth at my feet. His blustering begins to waiver as the two hounds emerge. Both are black with heads the size of beachballs, with bodies to match. I decide then to make their eyes glow red, a little something I picked up from the countless movies I’ve seen over the years. It may seem trite, but the effect they have are always impressive.
As he takes his first few steps backwards, I can see his friends coming out of the gate looking worried. There’s just something about seeing something that looks like a Pitbull, but is the size of a Great Dane that is really off putting to people.
Tough guy yells as the first dog lunges for him. He takes a step back and tries to hit it with the crowbar. He connects and the dog’s head splits in two. For a moment he thinks he’s won, then realizes that each half is now shaping and becoming whole. Now he’s dealing with an angry two-headed beast.
Unfortunately, I can smell the urine running down his legs as he screams like a girl and flees. His buddies are already far ahead of him, chased by the second hound which had silently shot past Mr. Crowbar before he could blink.
Once I’m satisfied that they’ve had enough I retract my pets. I’ve not moved an inch from where I’m standing, with good reason. Thanks to the darkness, none of the trio noticed the long black lines stretching from beneath my coat, across the ground and all the way to where the dogs should have hind quarters. As the canine figures distort and stretch back beneath my coat, I sigh. I could’ve easily shape-shifted into the form of a huge wolf, but that would start rumors. And as you know I abhor those.
After my ‘pets’ are back in their proper place and I can feel my legs again, I enter the family plot and right the headstone. I’m relieved to see that it hasn’t broken, or even cracked. I was worried, considering its the original stone and fragile. Eventually, I’ll have to replace it, but not yet. Maybe in another few decades, but for now it’s still quite legible and beautiful in a weathered sort of way.
I check on the other graves, none of them were harmed. I got here just in time. But the flowers have been trampled, plus there are a few looking rather wilted. I know what needs to be done. As sacrilegious as it sounds, I slowly walk over each grave. As the tails of my coat pass over them, the flowers are looking strong and healthy once more.
Satisfied with my handiwork, I take a final look around. There’s no one near. I can even hear the trio still running, they’re at least a mile and half away. Good.
I knew they wouldn’t be back, but I checked on things last night and stayed in the shadows until I sensed the dawn coming. I intend to do the same tonight. Brian is insisting on coming with me this time. He wants to keep me company and go over some of the other letters I have to transcribe. I think he’s going to bring his laptop with him in case the mood to type strikes me.
If he offers to do it for me I’ll decline. Those letters and journal pages tell just a part of the story, only I can fill in the other sections. No matter how hard or difficult I may find it at times, it needs to be done.
I can see it’s almost nine now, I’ve been here for over an hour already and Brian is looking antsy. He wants to read what I’ve typed, which I will let him do. He’s a good man, just like his father and grandfather and so on all the way back to his great-great-great grandfather, the first Brian Weston. Or rather I should say Captain Weston, hero, and childhood friend.
I’ll probably speak more of him in my next entry, since the next letters will begin mentioning my military service.
I think my heart skipped a beat at that moment. Which is a good thing, because it probably kept me from trying to yell “WHAT?” with my mouth still wired shut.
Thinking back, I must’ve screamed it mentally because Nathan’s hands were on my shoulders keeping me down ever so gently. Still I could feel the tension in his arms. Brian and Jack were also crowding around me now, both of them talking at once. Dr. Jack was scolding Nathan, while Brian was offering a platitude of reassurances that nothing was going to happen unless I gave the okay.
Meanwhile my mind was in a whirl. I had just gotten used to the idea of what Nathan was and that he was supposedly one of the good guys. Which a part of me desperately wanted to believe. I mean, he had rescued me and Brian all those years ago at a cost to himself. Plus, he’d created that link between me and him that allowed me to use his voice to communicate. Still… the idea of him pulling a Christopher Lee on me was not exactly high on my list of things I wanted to try anytime soon.
While Brian and Dr. Jack tried talking over each other, Nathan decided to talk to me ‘privately’ through our mental link.
“Sorry, I didn’t know everyone was going to fly off the handle this badly,” he said gently inside my head. “Now, as I was trying to explain, when I bite someone I can see into their minds. However, there is a second type of bite I can use where I put some of myself into the other person. When I do this, the bond that’s created is much stronger than what we have now. I can, if I so choose, control a person quite a bit. Mind you, I’m very reluctant to do that. I don’t like the idea of taking someone’s free will away, unless it’s a major intervention so to speak. However, what very few know is that there’s a bit of two-way street effect.“
“How do you mean?” I asked.
“I can feel that other person in me at the same time. But since I created the bond, that means I’m the one who is in control. Unfortunately, I can’t take it back. Once made the bond seems to be permanent, until the person moves on from this life. However, I can ‘shut the door’ so the connection is turned off and neither me nor the other person can sense or hear the other,” he explained.
“I think I see what you’re saying,” I told him. “You’re offering to open the door so I can step inside you and have the use of your body so to speak…”
“Up to a point,” he corrected.
I nodded ever so slightly. “And when the piece is done…”
“I’ll close the door and you’ll be back in your own body, and you won’t feel or sense me anymore,” he finished.
I thought about it for a few moments. I really wanted to finish the piece, it was for my mom after all. She’d sacrificed so much for me over the years and had been my biggest supporter when it came to my art. And… I trusted Nathan. I know, it sounds weird after being terrified by him for all these years, but now that I knew the truth, I wanted to take the chance. If it meant getting to finish my work in days instead of months or even years… I had to grab it. Especially if there was a chance that even after I recovered from my injuries, I might not have he dexterity and ability to handle the clay as I used to. This might be my last chance to create the best piece I was ever going to make.
Still, there was one final issue I wanted to clarify with him first. “Um… this bite, is it going to hurt?”
Nathan smiled and shook his head and said aloud so the other two could hear. “Absolutely not. You won’t feel a thing, I promise.”
“Then let’s do it!” I replied.
Keeping a reassuring hand on my arm, Nathan proceeded to tell the other two what we’d discussed, along with my decision.
As he did so, I noticed a funny kind of wetness on the arm where his hand was resting. There was a warmth to it and the area tingled for a few seconds.
“It’s done,” he said aloud and released my arm. As he did so, I caught a brief glimpse of a mouth with two needle-like teeth in the palm of the hand that had been touching me. As my eyes widened, I saw the mouth close while the skin around it rippled. In the blink of an eye, it was gone and I found myself staring at a normal looking hand.
“What now?” I asked mentally.
“Lie back and give it a few minutes,” Nathan replied aloud, for the benefit of Dr. Jack and Brian.
I did so, but the seconds seemed to tick on forever as I kept waiting for something to happen. Some change, my vision to blur or feel warm inside… but I just felt the same as before. After 10 minutes I was getting tired of the looks on Brian and Dr. Jack’s faces as they kept staring at me and then Nathan.
Finally, I closed my eyes… only…. I was still seeing them. Only instead of looking up at them, I was staring across my bed at them.
I opened my own eyes again and saw them still looking down at me, with grave expressions. But when I turned my eyes to Nathan I saw him waggle his eyebrows at me. “What did you think of the view?” he asked after a moment.
While I couldn’t open my mouth I could pull the sides of it into a semi-smile.
Jack and Brian both gave me looks of relief. I heard one of them mutter, “Thank God,” under their breath. Only, I think I heard it with both my ears and Nathan’s. This was going to take a little getting used to, I could tell already.
Just then, Nathan reached down below my bed and pulled out a bag of clay. Then he brought a small table over and placed the clay on it and said, “Shall we try the hands a bit. You’ll need to close your eyes, otherwise you might get multiple angles which could prove disconcerting.”
He had thought of everything.
“Yes, please,” I replied through our link and did as I was told.
As I closed them, I could smell the familiar scent of the clay through his nostrils. God, how I had missed that odor. It had become so common in my life, I hadn’t really realized how it had become such a part of my world.
“Okay, my hands are yours, let’s see you work with it,” Nathan told me.
I won’t lie and say that I wasn’t nervous. It took me several tries to build up the courage to use his hands but once those fingers touched the clay my instincts took over. It wasn’t the best quality, or at least the kind of clay I was used to. It was a bit harder than I liked, but his hands were strong and were able to manipulate it like my own never could. But I understood, he had done that on purpose. He wanted me to get used to what these hands could do. And for the next hour I worked and molded and found my touch with those hands. They belonged to him, but the skill and delicate touch were all me.
I could hear Nathan’s thoughts in the back of ‘our’ mind as he marveled at my manipulation of the substance. He even flat out said at one point, “It’s so cool and yet silky in it’s own way…” I told him he hadn’t seen anything yet. By the time we were finished, we were both satisfied with the experiment. So were Jack and Brian who had been watching the whole time.
I felt myself back in my own body again and opened my eyes. Obviously, Nathan had partially ‘closed the door’ between us, because I wasn’t having double-vision so to speak. Yet I could still sense the link between us.
“So what now?” Brian asked.
That was a good question.
I looked to Nathan who looked at me and said, “You’re call.”
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.