Friday, November 18, 2016

Penelope's Way



"Edmund was on his way to see Princess Penelope. From the shadows lurked, Goldwing, the dragon that had killed his father. The beast was watching the knight, waiting for the opportunity to strike when..."

"The princess leaped out of the shadows and ran him through with her sword!"

Gaylord sighed. "Penelope, who is telling this story, you or me?"

"You are."

"Then let ME tell it."

"When daddy reads to me, he lets me change the story."

"I'm not dad."

"I know. Daddy would never put a dragon in the shadows. How can a dragon lurk? He's huge."

"It's a small dragon."

Penelope snorted. "Edmund deserves to be eaten, if he can't see a dragon in the shadows."

"Maybe Edmund is thinking about Princess Penelope."

"I told you, I don't want to be a princess. I want to be a knight and carry a sword with a magical, crystal pommel."

"Well in my story you are the Princess of Unicorns and Rainbows." Gaylord grinned at his sister and attempted his most evil laugh.

Penelope rolled her eyes. "In that case, I want to change the story."

"You don't get to change the story."

But Penelope wasn't listening. She was holding a crystal gem; one of those glass things they sell at novelty stores. Only Gaylord noticed this gem looked different. It glowed when she held it.

"Where did you get that?"

"I found it. It grants wishes."

"How cute," Gaylord smirked.

Penelope whispered into the crystal, "Dragons are real. They live in the shadow realm."

On the wall a shadow of a dragon appeared.

"What the...Penelope, what did you do?"

Penelope smiled. "I like this story much better." Penelope whispered into the crystal again. She and Gaylord disappeared from the room and two new shadows appeared on the wall.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Guardian







     “Lily, guess what!”

     Lily put down the book she was trying to read for English and looked at Tyler, the little boy she was babysitting. He was jumping up and down with excitement and she tried not to laugh, as she gave him her most severe look.

     “Tyler, aren’t you supposed to be in bed?”

     “But Lily,” the boy said, nearly bouncing out of his pajamas, “I have to tell you what happened.”

     Lily sighed. She knew there was no point in arguing with him, not when he was wound up like this. If she wanted him to get back to bed, so she could get back to her reading assignment, she would have to let him tell his story. “Okay Tyler, what happened? Did aliens try and take you back to your planet?”

     “No,” Tyler said, his voice heavily laced with sarcasm. “That was last week.”

     “And they haven’t been back yet? Well then, I suppose that you were nearly eaten by zombies.”

     Tyler glared at Lily and she tried not to laugh.

     “Lily, I’m serious. This is important, because we have to warn everyone about the new neighbors!”

     “The Rosarios? They seem nice.”

     “They’re vampires!”

     “Vampires? Tyler, really, I don’t have time for this. I have a book report due tomorrow and I haven’t even finished reading the book.”

     “But I’m telling you the truth! If it weren’t for Jack Jack, I’d be vampire food right now!”

     Jack Jack let out a little woof, as though the pooch were confirming what the boy was saying.

     “And how did Jack Jack save you?”

     “He scared her off.”

     “He scared who off?”

     “The little girl that lives next door. She tried to climb in my window to bite me, but Jack Jack barked at her and scared her off. He’s my lucky charm.

     Tyler was always calling the dog his lucky charm and in a way he was.  A few months earlier, Tyler had been playing with some friends at the park. He wandered  too close to the pond and fell in.Tyler couldn’t swim and none of the other children knew what to do and there were no adults close enough to see what had happened.  Then suddenly this dog came running out of the woods, dove into the water and pulled Tyler out. The dog became an instant hero and Tyler had a new pet.

     “You’re trying to tell me that Jack Jack scared off a vampire? You do realize werewolves are a vampires enemy, not a dog? Jack Jack may be in serious need of a bath, but he is nowhere near pungent enough to be mistaken for a werewolf.”

     “But he did scare her off. If he hadn’t barked at her, she would have sunk her teeth into my neck and drank all of my blood.”

      “Okay Tyler, that’s enough. I have too much to do tonight, I don't have time to listen to your stories.”

     “But…”

     “I said, enough. Now get back to bed.” Lily pointed towards the stairs. Reluctantly, Tyler turned and headed back to his room, followed by Jack Jack, who growled his disapproval at the sitter. When Tyler reached the steps, he turned and looked back at Lily, before heading up, dragging his feet like a prisoner heading to the gallows.

     When he reached his room, Tyler turned on the light and looked under his bed. Then he looked in his closet. The little vampire girl wasn’t there. Once he was sure his room was safe, he shut the door, leaving it cracked so that the light from the hall would filter in. Then he went to his window and looked out. Looking back at him was the little girl. She waved at him, smiling so that the moonlight flashed off of her teeth. He could see her fangs clearly. Reaching out, he checked to be sure the window was locked. 

     He stood there and looked out the window for a little while, but sleep took hold and he laid his head down on the sill. After he fell asleep, Lily came in to check on him. Lifting him up, she carried the boy to his bed and tucked him in, while Jack Jack kept an eye at the window. Checking to see what he was watching, she saw a shadow fall across the glass. Jack Jack growled, pressing his ears to the back of his head. Outside, a little girl was floating. Sighing, Lily pushed Jack Jack to the floor and opened the window.

     “Emma, what are you doing?”

     “I wanted to play with the little boy.”

     “Have you lost your head? If anyone found out there were vampires in town, they would hunt us down like vermin. You know they think we’re all bloodsucking demons.”

     “But I’m bored. I just wanted to play with him.”

     “Well now he thinks you want to eat him.”

     Emma giggled. Lily raised her eyebrow. “Go back home Emma.”

     Emma floated down to the ground and walked across the yard to her house. Once she was out of sight, Lily turned towards Jack Jack, whose tale was thumping on the floor. “Don’t be acting innocent, your highness,” Lily said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “Your job is to keep the boy safe, not sit idly by while little girls float outside his window and aliens try to abduct him.”

Monday, October 3, 2016

Beggars Night

A story for the older kids.







“Trick or Treat!”
Hugh stared into six pairs of eyes, each peering out from behind a mask. His stomach gurgled, loudly, reminding him he hadn’t eaten yet this evening. A ballerina in a pink tutu held an orange and black bag out, a smile on her face.  She waited expectantly with all the other children. Hugh stood there a moment, debating whether it would be wise or not to eat one of the vagabonds or if he should instead dine elsewhere.
“Well,” a tall boy wearing a vampire outfit, shoved his bucket forward, shaking it at the irritated vampire.
Shutting the door, Hugh walked away, the sound of eggs breaking against his house, following him.  Then silence. He wondered if they had moved on, or were performing some other inane ritual. Last Beggars Night they had covered his home in toilet paper. 
“You know, you could just play along, give them some candy.”
“So I can be responsible for their teeth rotting out?” Hugh glared at his teenage neighbor.  He hated how she always floated into his house uninvited. It was his opinion that Ghosts had no sense of boundaries and personal space.
“It’s not their teeth you’re worried about, you just don’t want them to grow up with sugar in their blood.”
“It does make the flavor too sweet,” Hugh said. Next door he could hear their childish little voices saying Trick or Treat, followed by the ground shaking and then screams.
“Come back, I’ve got candy treats. Here… some jellied eyeballs!” Frank Stein’s voice could be heard calling after the children, who by now were running down the road, frightened off by the lumbering monster.
“See,” Anastasia said, “Frank gets into the spirit of the holiday.”
“Go home,” Hugh said, shrugging on a coat and heading towards the door.
“I don’t know why you’re so grumpy. Halloween only comes once a year and it’s a great time for the paranormal world and the living world to come together. Learn a little about each other.”
“What do I need to learn? I used to be alive, I know what the living are capable of. For that matter, so were you. Didn’t your boyfriend murder you?”
“Yeah, but it was just a misunderstanding. I straightened it out.”
“How?”
“I haunted him. He’s in an insane asylum now and I go see him every day. I love how he screams my name.” Anastasia floated to the top of the room, giggling.
“Sounds like you have a perfect relationship,” Hugh said, opening the front door, “now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find dinner.”  Closing the door behind him, Hugh turned, nearly falling over a small witch and a trio of ghosts.
Not about to let him get away, Anastasia floated through the closed barrier. “At least I have a relationship. You bite every girl you meet… no girl is going to go out with you, if she has to worry about you sucking her blood. Oh, hello,” Anastasia said, noticing the trick or treaters.
Screaming, the three ghosts and witch ran down the street, leaving a trail of candy behind.
“Now that’s odd,” Anastasia said, “they left their treats behind.”
Sighing, Hugh continued on his way, stepping past George, who was walking down the street, his arms held straight out in front of him and moaning loudly. The vampire stared at him, shaking his head. “Not you too, George.
“Not me, what?” The zombie asked, stopping and dropping his arms to the side.
“Tell me you are not celebrating Beggars Night.
“Of course I’m celebrating. Missy’s out with her friends and I promised to give them a real good fright when they get over this way.”
“Hugh doesn’t like Halloween,” Anastasia said.
“Not like Halloween?” George looked appalled, nearly dropping his jaw on the ground. Catching it, he pushed his chin back into place. “How can you not like Halloween? Every respectable monster celebrates this holiday.”
“I don’t,” Hugh said, continuing on his way. Passing the cemetery where a group of ghouls were playing a game of hide and seek, he shook his head, grumbling that they had all gone insane.
Deep in thought about the dreaded night and the vagabond beggars, Hugh walked through the Asian neighborhood, unaware of his surroundings. Passing  one of his favorite dishes without even a glance, the young woman stared after him, wondering why the brooding man looked so familiar. Rubbing her neck, she shrugged her shoulders and continued on her way.
A group of costumed children ran past Hugh, jostling each other, they ran up some steps and rang the doorbell. Cringing at the sound of their putrid sing song voices, he turned to cross the street and bumped into a smaller version of the other children.
The boy was small and slower than his friends, who couldn’t be bothered to wait for the younger child. It was obvious his costume was home-made, not store bought like the others and from the wear and tear on the outfit, probably a hand me down. The Frankenstein mask was twisted sideways, revealing one eye staring out and the other eerily empty.
“Wait for me,” he called out, stepping around Hugh with a nervous glance.
“Hurry up, baby, you’re holding us up. All the best candy will be gone.”
“Why’d we have to bring him?”
“My mother made me.”
“Can’t we just ditch him?”
Then the kids ran up the street while the boy tried to catch up.  Hugh stared after him, memories of another small child that didn’t quite fit in, rushing out of his hidden memories, the rug he’d swept them under shifting, revealing dark basement stairs.





“Hugh, you’re such a baby,” his sister taunted him from the gloomy depths.

“Hey Hugh, your costume is the most pathetic thing I have ever seen,” Billy Thompson mocked, his sneering face rising out of the crypt.
“Hugh, are you alright?” Anastasia floated up behind him, worry in her eyes.
“I’m fine. Do you want to help me with something?”
“Sure,” the teen ghost said, smiling mischievously. “What do you have in mind?”


***


Anastasia giggled, watching the trick or treaters come down the street. A smaller boy raced behind them, trying to catch up, but they refused to slow down.
“Bullies,” Anastasia grumbled, her eyes darkening. When the kids neared her hiding place, she floated out of the shadows, hovering in front of them.
“Hello boys’.”
“G-g-g-ghost!” The tallest of the group turned to run and found, to his horror, a vampire standing behind him.
“I vant to suck your blood,” Hugh said, giving his best Hollywood Vampire impression.
“Vampire!” Dropping his bag of candy, the kid nearly slipped in a puddle of his own pee, in his haste to get away.  His friends followed him down the street, chocolate treats falling out of their own buckets.
“You’re right,” Hugh said, laughing at the retreating figures, “Halloween is fun. Now let’s go get a bite.”
“You can eat,” Anastasia giggled, “everything I swallow goes straight through me.”
Laughing, the two headed down the street. Behind them a small boy in a Frankenstein masked scratched his head, wondering what he had just witnessed. Then he collected the candy laying on the ground and ran back home to count his loot.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

A Little Patience, Please





     “Grissie, the Council would like to see you.”

     Griselda looked up from the pot of Wart Stew she was boiling and stared aghast at the blond twig standing in front of her. She looked the young witch up and down. She was wearing a pink hat of all things. Griselda turned her attention back to the pot and continued the incantation the young witch had interrupted.

     “Grissie, ignoring me won’t make me go away. The Council demands your audience and as you know…”

     Griselda sighed. “My name is Griselda, even to my friends, you impertinent wench.”

     “Pardon me, Griselda. The Council has sent me to escort you to the Grand Wizard’s Chambers.”

     “What for?”

     “Excuse me?”

     “What does the Council want with me? I no longer pay dues, as I am sure you know. I went on my own long ago.”

     “One does not just leave, as I am sure you well know. You used to be the best Punisher the Council had. I grew up admiring your work. I wanted to be just like you… that’s why I joined.”

     “You wanted to be just like me?” Griselda stepped around the cauldron and glared at the witch. “Dressing like a simpering, empty headed, troll licking, school girl is how you achieve that?”

     The witch smiled. Egads, her teeth were straight and white. This was a witch who saw her dentist on a regular basis. “Warts are no longer in and the green look went out before your time, Grissie. Just because we are witches, that doesn’t mean we can’t look nice while we are cursing someone.”

     “My name is Griselda…”

     “And mine is Patience, but I am quickly losing mine. Now shall we go? The Grand Wizard doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”

     “Tell Boris he can take his wand and shove it up his nose.”

     Patience pulled her own wand out of her cloak. “Tell him yourself.”

     Griselda rolled her eyes. This hag was really grating on her nerves. Wart Stew was temperamental and if she didn’t put each ingredient in at just the right time and say the incantation in exactly the right rhyme, it would curdle. She flicked her finger at the insolent shrew, intending to turn her into a toad. She needed a toad for the stew anyway, one with lots of warts. But the jinx backfired and bounced back at her. Griselda had been a witch long enough to recognize a backwards whammy when it happened and quickly dove out of the way. The spell missed her ... her cat wasn't so lucky.

     “Look what… what you did!” Griselda shrieked, snatching up the toad that not only had a large amount of warts, but also had whiskers and a tuft of black fur at the top of his head.

     Patience laughed and Griselda winced, because even her laugh was musical. “You were the one that cast the hex, Grissie, did you really think the Council would send a Punisher that didn’t know how to protect herself?”

     Griselda eyed the witch a little more carefully. She didn’t look like a Punisher, she had assumed she was a Fledgling. “Why would the Council send a Punisher? I’ve not done anything that goes against the Covenant.”

     “Did you not turn Harold Wynn into a newt? And then cook him into a pie?”

     “Did you ever meet Harold Wynn?”

     “I did. He was… interesting.”

     Griselda snorted. “Interesting isn’t the word I would use. Troll, now that’s an accurate word.”

     “Regardless of his character, he is the High Lord's nephew…”

     “Was,” Griselda said. “I ate him, so he is no more.”

     “If only,” Patience said. Then she waved her arm and Griselda found herself standing in front of the Council… and Harold Wynn.

     “Harold, good to see you!” Griselda said, trying to cover her surprise. She hadn’t considered that he’d come back as a ghost. It had never happened before… at least not as far as she was aware.    “Transparency suits you.”

     “Transparency suits me?  I’m a ghost, you hag!”

     “And it’s done wonders for your shape. I see you you’ve lost some weight.”

     “Again… I’m a ghost! I can’t eat… everything falls right through me.”

     “It is really pretty gross,” Patience said.

     “I want her punished,” Harold said, turning towards the Council.

     “She will be,” The Grand Wizard said.

     “Bubbling toad horns, Boris, you can’t be taking him seriously. It’s not like I turned him into a cockroach.”

     “You baked me into a pie,” Harold complained, “and then ate me.”

     “You were delicious too,” Griselda chuckled.

     “The problem,” Boris said, “is that he’s a ghost now and he is driving the High Lord to distraction. Pops in on him when he’s eating dinner and watches him eat.”

     “I’m envious,” Harold said. “Out of all the things I used to do, eating is the one I miss the most.”

     “It makes his Lordship angry.”

     “His Lordship,” Harold snorted, “wears boxers with red hearts under his robes.”

     “That’s the other thing, he doesn’t like you peeking in his drawers.” Boris looked at Griselda, “He caught him the other day with his head inside the closet. The door was shut… locked even, and Harold just poked his head inside. He’s been doing that everywhere.”

     “He has,” Patience confirmed. “I was reading a book the other day and he stuck his head right through the pages. And then he told me what it said on the last page. Completely ruined the story for me.”

     “It was The Wizard of Oz. Everyone knows what happens at the end.”

     Everyone knows what happens in the end of the movie,” Patience said. “The book could be completely different. They never go by the book for the movies.”

     “This is why I baked the little troll,” Griselda said. “He’s annoying.”

     “He was annoying when he was alive,” Boris said. “Now, as a ghost, he is unbearable, and you are responsible.”

     “I can see that,” Griselda said, “and I will accept my punishment, but does it have to be dealt by this cotton candy witch? She’ll probably turn me into something lovely, like a little girl. With pig tails.”

     “She’s not going to turn you into anything,” Boris said. “Your punishment has been decided. As has Harold’s.”

     “What?” Harold asked. “My punishment? I didn’t do anything wrong.”

     “Griselda, what prompted you to turn Harold into a newt and bake him into a pie?”

     “He annoyed me.”

     “That is why you are being punished Harold. You annoyed Griselda, you annoyed Patience… who is really hard to annoy, and you annoyed your uncle, the High Lord. Don’t annoy the High Lord. That annoys me. And when you annoy me, you get punished.”

     “So what are you going to do to me?” Griselda asked. “If you are going to turn me into something, could you at least make it something hideous?”

     “I’m not going to turn you into anything,” Patience said. “You are going to go back home just the same as you are now… with one exception…”  Patience pulled out her wand and waved it towards Griselda. Nothing appeared to happen, but Patience seemed satisfied.

     “What did you do?” Griselda asked.

     “I bound you and Harold together. You turned him into a newt. You baked him into a pie. You ate him. He’s yours.”

     “NOOO!” Griselda started to fall to her knees to beg Patience to change her mind, turn her into a little girl, a butterfly, even a dandelion, anything but chaining her to Harold Wynn, but before she could, Patience waved her arm and Griselda found herself back in her cottage, along with Harold’s ghost. The last words she heard was that insanely wicked witch’s words, “Try to learn a little patience. You’ll need it.”