Saturday, July 29, 2017
With the completion of Nathan and Otto’s rather lengthy adventure with the Unicorns and Terror Raptors, I thought now might be a good time to let you all know that Helen and I have been hard at work on a brand new Vampyre Blogs book. This volume is set to be released just after this coming Thanksgiving, so you only have to wait another four months to get your hands on this latest installment of the Para-Earth Series.
However… unlike the first book, this one will be an anthology instead of a novel. We will be taking select entries from this nearly four year old blog site to be included in the anthology. Now you may be asking yourself, why put a bunch of stories that are available online into a collection? Well, I’d been getting some e-mails and messages on Facebook, that newcomers to the site telling us that they loved Nathan and company, but found scrolling through so many pages to get to the earlier stories was a bit tedious to say the least.
Upon repeatedly hearing this, Helen and I went over the site and found that had created almost fifty different stories. And while some of them were short, others were so long that they could have anywhere from two to six separate entries to tell entire tale.
While going over some of the earlier and more recent entries, I also began to notice some glaring problems that had been overlooked when they were originally published. This was the direct result of the fact that all of the stories in this blog were basically 1st drafts. Meaning of course they were not fully edited so the ‘occasional’ (massive understatement) misspelling or less-then-perfect punctuations appear in a number of them.
However I can tell you now that all the stories going into the anthology will be getting edited and have a few tweeks made to them for better clarity of reading. Also, the stories will be put in a chronological order. This means they will appear in the anthology by according to when the character telling the tale originally wrote/experienced the adventure. Furthermore, some adjustments being made to some of the stories to create a more smooth timeline for who met who when.
The purpose of doing these ‘adjustments’ is so that the readers can have a better idea of how each of these life events shaped the characters’ personalities before they appear in “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”.
And as they say on television…
Both Helen and I agreed right off the bat that any anthology we created needed to have new never-before seen tales in it. In this case, out of the 23-24 stories we currently have lined up for the anthology, six to seven (about a third) of the stories are completely NEW and will not be appearing on this site. Several of these new tales involve Nathan's ‘long-time’ Otto, aka "The Professor", who made his debut in "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home". Both his introduction in the novel and his comment, "Apparently, I am am made of NOPE..." have caught the imagination of our readers who have been clamoring for more details on this strange man who Nathan looks up to as a mentor, as well as friend.
Also, since Helen and I are both artists, we are going to try and add some original pen and ink artwork to a number of the stories. We will also be placing either an Intro or an Afterthought to each tale explaining either how the story came to be.
We are also planning more anthologies for the future, not only for the Vampyre Blogs, but also the rest of the characters appearing in Para-Earth Series such as: Alex Hill, Veronica Ross (who along with her boss Roy Petersen – appear in two of the tales in this anthology) and their friends...
Our goal is to release “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day at a Time” on Black Friday or Cyber Monday at the latest, so add it to your holiday wish list, or think about someone you know who’d love a good read on those cold winter nights.
Finally, we are also exploring another avenue with the Para-Earths namely... AUDIOBOOKS! We've had a number of people asking us if and when we'd make the books available in that form. So currently we are looking into that area and will be providing updates soon. With we might even have a couple of short stories in audio form for free, to be released just in time for the holidays so we can get some feedback from all of you.
With all that said you can see we have a lot of plans for both The Vampyre Blogs and the rest of the Para-Earth Series in the works. But have no fears, new stories will still be appearing here as well. So stay with us and please help spread the word about Nathan, his friends, and the rest of the Para-Earth Series. The fun has just begun...
Barnes and Noble:
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
At the sight of the Terror Raptor’s return, with reinforcements, mom got right to her feet and took a protective stance over her foal. The movement caught Don’s eye and his trigger finger began to tighten until he saw it was her and not me. “Tell her to stay still!” he shouted, keeping the business end of his gun pointed at me.
Obviously, he had figured out that I had some influence over my charges. At that same moment, my ‘moles’ broke ground. Immediately, I had several of them leap up inside the legs of his thick snow pants. I was mindful to have them cling to the inside of the fabric instead of his leg, to avoid startling him into accidentally firing.
Meanwhile, I gestured for Momma to calm down, while keeping an eye on our two sets of ‘friends’. The raptors were silently closing the distance between us. It was amazing how such huge creatures could move so stealthily.
However, Eric must’ve sensed something was wrong because he turned and froze for a second. Then he quietly backed up towards his brother muttering, “Donnie… Don… oh Don...”
Immediately I thought of Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein, only this was real life and clearly lacked the true comedic timing of those great men. Still, it was pretty funny, in an unnerving kind of way.
“What?” snarled his brother, refusing to tear his eyes away from us for even a second, “I’m trying to keep these three…”
Eric was right next to him, but too terrified to speak. Instead he grabbed his brother’s shoulder and spun him around to face the approaching danger.
Immediately, I had my ‘moles’ sink their teeth into both brothers’ legs. Within the space between seconds I saw into both their minds and tried to wipe all thoughts and memories of having seen the two unicorns from their memories. Now they should only remember my original lie of meeting a Norwegian farmer who had been looking for a lost pregnant horse and that we were under attack from wolves and they had the only weapons.
Unfortunately, wolves are a lot lower to the ground than our opponents, which meant my two mind-slaves they aimed their guns a lot lower than I needed them to be when they opened fire.
Their first volley wound up hitting the snow at the birds’ feet, which was effective enough to alarm them into scattering in a wide loop around and past us. Eventually they regrouped some fifty yards away at the edge of the woods. Eyeing us warily, the largest of the three glanced at his compatriots and then in unison they let loose with a threatening cry. It was the same cry that had thrown me before, only this time it was in triple stereo.
Luckily, I had seen what was coming and managed to close my ears up completely, but my charges, and our ‘protectors’, were not so fortunate. All of them began to struggle just to keep their balance, while our opponents seized their chance. The sound also broke my hold on the brothers’ minds and once more they could see things as they were. But instead of raising their guns, the pair dropped their weapons and dove for cover behind a nearby fallen tree. This left mom, foal and me as the only targets for the birds who ceased their vocal assault and began racing straight towards us at an alarming speed.
Immediately I stopped protecting my ears, while my mind raced for to figure out the best way to protect everyone, when I realized the sound of the birds approach sounded more like hoofbeats. Which of course made no sense whatsoever.
Just then I noticed the mare tossing her head as she glanced towards the spot where the portal to her world stood. From the oddly bright patch burst forth a long, stripped… branch hovering in the air? As I stood there staring, the branch seemed to stretch to a good feet length and was still growing when a horn, attached to a night-black unicorn’s head emerged through opening, followed by the animal’s body.
As magnificent and welcome a sight as the beast was, the figure sitting astride its back holding the make-shift lance was even more impressive. Otto looked taller and more commanding than I’d ever seen him before. Mind you this was not simply because of the elevation from his being seated on such a magnificent animal, but his posture was erect, and his face was stern and determined in a way I’ve rarely seen.
As he caught sight of the Terror Raptors, my old friend cried out, “For God and Charlemagne!” Then bending forward, he wrapped his left arm around the unicorn and braced the huge branch he was holding as a weapon. For a second I had to wonder to myself how many times he had uttered that particular battle cry. To this day I have no idea how much older Otto is than me, and he’s always telling me, “I’ve given you enough hints over the decades, you should’ve figured it by now. Don’t you like puzzles?”
Meanwhile, to my surprise, a second unicorn appeared through the unseen entry. This one was followed by yet another. I quickly realized that Otto had not only shown up in the nick of time, but that he was bringing a small cavalry with him.
Now all of this took place within seconds, with a fourth unicorn arriving just as Otto and his steed leapt over me and my two charges.
The Terror Raptors swiveled aside upon seeing the approaching threat, but two of them collided with each other slowing their evasion tactics, long enough for my friend’s make-shift lance to catch one of them in the side of the neck. The bird squawked and stumbled from the blow, while crashing into its companion yet again and nearly tripping him up. Alas, only one of them went down while the other struggled to stay upright, but at least it veered away from momma, baby and me. Which was wise, since the fourth unicorn took up a protective stance in front of the three of us. He too was a formidable beast, who pawed the ground in a very protective manner.
This left only the last of the trio who was now confronted by at least two of the unicorns Otto had brought with him. Both were impressive specimens, powerful, determined, and fearsome all at the same time. The pair shot past me as they raced to intercept the last of the raptors who had not been involved in the collision. This one, the largest of the three, had taken advantage of Otto’s breaking up their original charge to try and outflank us. Only now he found himself facing the formidable unicorn team who were galloping at him with horns lowered.
Seeing the danger the Terror Raptor changed course once more and veered to the left allowing it to pass through the opening through which it had entered. He was followed moments later by his one of his compatriots who was desperately trying to outrun Otto’s lance.
To my surprise, Otto his steed, and the pair of unicorns, who had come to the aid of me and my charges, halted before the portal instead of passing through. But no sooner had I started to wonder why they’d ended their pursuit a pair of terrifying cries erupted through the opening, which had no doubt come from the same throats I’d heard earlier. Only this time, instead of sounding threatening, the sounds were that of terror and pain.
Once again my sharp ears caught the sound of snorting and stomping coming from a large group of enraged equines. Obviously, Otto had kept more unicorns in reserve on the other side of the portal.
Before my imagination could form an image of what was probably happening, a similar scene began to unfold much closer to me. The Terror Raptor that had fallen from the collision struggled to its feet and tried to make a sneak attack from behind on the black steed my friend was still astride. But before I could cry out a warning, the great stallion reared and then planted both front hooves on the ground, while unleashing a mighty kick with his hind legs.
The blow caught the menacing fowl under the chin sending the would-be attacker head over talons several feet away. Before the raptor could even try to recover, the remaining unicorns were upon him, kicking savagely until the bird ceased to move.
As I stared in shock, Otto drew up next to me saying, “Nature has its ways. These birds are quite dangerous predators and the unicorns cannot have them be a threat to their families. Homo sapiens would have been no more gentle with a pride of lions attacking a newborn and mother. Their battle plays by their rules. I imagine with time the birds will learn to be more wary of the unicorns and the ones who do will not be hunted.” Here he paused to stroke the mane of the unicorn he had been riding and added with a smile, “They have ways of communicating, even beyond their species.”
Before I could comment, I watched as the black stallion moved towards mother and foal who greeted him in a manner I could only describe as more than friendly. Nodding to myself I thought, ‘Yup, he was definitely worth it.’
Meanwhile, Otto dismounted. “Don’t you think we should give them a moment?” he said.
Nodding I turned away and then realized there was no sign of the Ding-a-Ling brothers. In fact, neither one had reappeared from behind the fallen tree I had last seen them diving behind. There was however some growling accompanied by yelps.
Otto raised an eyebrow. “Is there something else I should know about here?”
Unable to resist a smile I answered, “Well, I did have some other visitors show up while you were gone and…”
At that point Don and Eric popped up from behind the dead tree, screaming loudly and looking more and a little worse for wear. Their nice thick winter garments were now partly in tatters and covered in all kinds of filth. Both were screaming their heads off and whirling around like a pair of lunatics. As they spun Otto and I saw the source of their unusual condition… a very grumpy wolverine had attached itself to Don’s back. Apparently it had not appreciated their unwelcome intrusion into its den located beneath the fallen tree.
“Tsk. Evidently they entered without knocking. They must not have seen the ‘No Soliciting’ sign. But perhaps you can calm our mustilidae friend down before one of them does him a mischief?”
“Agreed,” I said and unleashed some of my mist. Within seconds it reached the wolverine who quickly it released its hold on Don and scurried over to me and Otto. Then, using my ‘moles’ I put both brothers to sleep, while ‘accidentally’ forgetting to make them lie down first. Unfortunately, with this latest trauma their minds had recovered somewhat from the altered memories. I quickly informed Otto of the problem and he took it from there.
After ordering me to hide our friends and myself behind a wall of fog which I promptly did. Then he stepped over to the brothers and began slapping each one of them on both cheeks, while yelling at them in Swedish to wake up.
“Knock it off, man,” said Eric after a few more slaps.
“Oh, English. You speak English. You fell asleep out here. You are terribly ill. You look like you have snow shock!”
“It is like heat stroke… but different. You fall asleep in the cold and your mind plays terrible tricks on you.”
“You mean that horse wasn’t real?”
“In this wilderness. No, no horses.”
“Or the… weird ostrich?” said Donnie.
“Ostriches in Sweden?” Otto shook his head and tsked. “You have it bad. Here, you must drink this to warm you up!” He pulled out a flask of vodka and poured some into Don’s mouth. “You, too,” he turned his attention to Eric. I could see through the mist, since it was my own creation, and noted how my friend spilled some of the vodka on their clothes, while still getting a few ounces down their throats. ‘Oh they are going to smell like a distillery,’ I thought with a smile.
As we watched, Otto then pulled each of the brother’s to their feet saying, “I can get you on a train soon and back into town. It’s a matter of safety, you should see a doctor as soon as you get there.”
“How do you know all about snow shock, anyway?” asked Don, who seemed marginally smarter than his brother.
“I am a Fjord Ranger,” Otto bluffed.
Eric said, “My sister used to drive one of those.”
I smiled inwardly, knowing that neither that, nor the snow shock story, would hold up once the boys talked to anyone. But of course Otto didn’t expect it to. He was simply doing his usual thing of bamboozling people long enough to get them out of the way.
As he led the two brothers away from the rest of us and back down the hill, I glanced over at the only remaining evidence, of what had truly transpired, namely the carcass of the Terror Raptor.
The sound of our new wolverine friend snuffling around at my feet gave me an idea. “I guess you wouldn’t mind having a nice cache of bird meat under the snow, would you, Stripy?” I asked him.
Since my mists were still inside him, he readily understood my thoughts if not my words, as he became very excited. A second later he scurried back to the log and within a few seconds reappeared with a female and two white kits. As Otto later informed me, usually the male does not hang around after mating with several females, but they do visit. So apparently, the brothers had caught him during a family visit which had really made him annoyed.
The kits from what I could see had only recently opened their eyes and after a quick look around scurried back into the den while mom and dad headed for the carcass. By the time Otto returned, I had been permitted to swipe a drumstick from our former foe, for our dinner. When morning came, there was no sign of the raptor having ever entered our world. Even a thin layer of snow covered any remaining blood stains on the ground.
It was another day or two before we took our leave. For one thing we wanted to make sure no other Terror Raptors appeared, which they did not. The second reason we stayed was so Otto could explore the other side of the opening a bit more. I joined him when night fell on the other side and… well that’s a story for another time.
In the end, we finally said goodbye to our unicorn friends, who it turned out were telepathic as Otto informed me. This of course was the real reason why Mama came to me for help in the first place. She’d sensed the kind of person I was and knew I’d do my best to keep her and the little one safe. She and her mate also picked up on a little wish of mine which they both kindly acquiesced to. And what was that wish? A lock of hair from each of their manes, which is how I will make nice with Lisa who is a tremendous Harry Potter fan. According to the books, unicorn hair makes a wonderful core to a wand.
“So, am I clever or not?” I asked my audience of one.
Alas I received no answer, because little Geoffrey who I had been telling this story to had fallen asleep shortly after I had begun my recitation. But that’s what happens when you tell an eighteen month old a long story.
Luckily, my tale was not wasted. As I suspected would happen, Lisa was listening in from the open doorway. She’d given me the cold shoulder routine the whole evening, but had obviously been attracted to my storytelling, as well as watching what I was doing. Especially when I held up the two locks of unicorn hair, one white, the other golden.
In the next instant found myself feeling like Wile E. Coyote in a Roadrunner cartoon. A black-haired blur shot into the room gave me a peck on the cheek followed by words, “Okay you’re forgiven,” and vanished again leaving me empty-handed and alone with little Geoffrey once more.
Glancing at the sleeping boy, I tucked a blanket around him and quietly exited the room. But no before allowing a little of my mist to escape from my sleeve so he could have some wondrous dreams about unicorns.
Saturday, April 29, 2017
Anyway, Otto was still shaking his head saying, “Missing lectures again. How many times have I told you that will cost you on the exam?”
That startled me. “There’s going to be an exam? I thought I was simply here to listen to bunch of experts in their field. Admittedly, some were more long-winded than others, present company not included,” I added hastily. “Is there any way I can make up the points? Maybe, go on a field trip or something?”
A bright smile appeared on my mentor’s face. “What a lovely suggestion. In fact I had recently been hearing reports of strange creatures being spotted in a region just north of here.”
“Really? And did that region happen to coincide with any interesting mathematical computations you’d been working on recently?”
He gave me a disappointed look. “I’m a professor, I’m always doing some kind of mathematics. But to answer your question, yes they do. By the way, how are you with snowshoes? It’s going to be pretty deep where we’re going.”
This time it was my turn to smile indulgently at him. “Snowshoes? Pffft… who needs those? I can just do my Legolas impression and move across the top of the snow without breaking it.”
Which is true. I can make myself extremely light at will and can walk across a number of surfaces without breaking the surface.
Apparently, he’d forgotten this fact, but instead of looking too embarrassed he simply grinned evilly back at me. I had no idea what was going on in his head, but I just knew my bragging was going to come back to haunt me later.
Three days later…
“What do you see with your elf eyes, Nathan?”
See, I told you that wisecrack of mine would come back to haunt me.
Turning I stared down the mountain at him and replied, “A lot of snow, trees, and one wiseass.”
“You know, Aragorn told me Legolas said the same thing to him,” he smiled innocently.
I chuckled at that. Otto is one of those people you can’t stay mad at for very long if ever. At that moment, my ears picked up a susurration off to my left. I had gotten used to the sounds in the area over the last two days, which was why this whispering rustle caught my attention I slowly turned, scanning the terrain very carefully until my eyes detected one area among the trees where the light was much stronger than it should be, considering the sky above us was dark.
Pointing in the direction of the spot, I called down to my mentor, “It’s about two hundred yards to your left, and twenty yards up the hill.”
Nodding he started moving towards the spot I indicated with great speed, which was quite an accomplishment for anyone wearing snowshoes. But Otto is far more athletic than his appearance belies. At first glance one might think he’s in his later 50’s, short, and stocky. But he can move as silently as a cat, and as fast as a leopard when he wants to.
Even with my ability to run across the snow he beat me to the spot by a few seconds. Now the thing with Para-Earth portals is that in order to spot them you have to be at just the right angle. Otherwise, you could walk right past them and probably do several times a decade.
As we examined the opening, Otto made careful measurements, which I faithfully recorded for him. Then he prepared himself to step through. He always goes first, since out of the two of us I’m more vulnerable. The one time I didn’t wait, I wound up racing back to our reality with the worst sunburn you never wanted to see.
I watched anxiously as he disappeared through the opening and waited. They say the waiting is the hardest part. Even knowing how durable my friend is, I still get a little nervous. Luckily, my wait was not a long one. After a few moments, he reappeared sporting a pair of stylish sunglasses which told me all I needed to know.
“Let me guess, it’s very sunny over there.”
“Actually, I discovered that the future is so bright in that reality, I have to wear shades,” he quipped without missing a beat.
“Sounds too heady for me. I’ll stay right here and make sure nothing comes through that shouldn’t,” I told him.
“Good idea,” he nodded and then added, “And this time, please don’t let anything from this reality slip through the opening while you’re at it.”
Rolling my eyes I protested, “I only let that happen once. And it was just a bunny.”
“That’s what that kid said down in Australia, and look what happened there.”
“True,” I conceded and then added seriously, "Be careful, over there."
"You worry too much," he smiled, "But it is appreciated."
I watched him pass through the opening once more and then turned to take in my surroundings. Trees blanketed the area, but were not so thick as to keep any snow from hitting the ground. A thin layer of white gently covered decades of fallen pine needles. Glancing up, I could see the snow was much thicker on the branches.
Between that and the fact that the nights were much longer at this time of year, I had little to fear from any hint of sunlight that might peek through.
Now my ears picked up the usual sounds of nature, birds, a stream in the distance, and the occasional scurrying of an animal either underground or foraging some ways off. In short, it was very peaceful. The perfect place to crash out for a while.
So I gathered up some fallen branches and moss and made a little nest against a thick tree, so my pants would stay dry and sat down. Leaning up against the trunk I relaxed and settled in to wait for Otto’s return. It was all so nice, I couldn’t help letting my eyelids close and drift off for a while.
And before anyone asks, no, I didn’t wind up sinking into the ground for a dirt nap. Contrary to what many in my extended family think, I do not always go to ground to sleep. I’m perfectly capable of sleeping in a bed, on a couch, or a sleeping bag, whatever. However, sometimes it gets a little lonely so I actually sleep in the ground more often than I actually need to. While I’m in the soil I feel more attached to the world itself. I can see and feel the vibrations of nature at work, like the plants drawing their nourishment, the passing of an industrious mole or field mouse making its way through the Earth. I’ve even had some pass through my liquid-like state on occasion, which was actually rather ticklish, believe it or not.
Anyway, this time I stayed above ground. The cool fresh air lent itself to some very pleasant dreams. Because I never know who might be reading this entry (i. e. YOU Lisa), I won’t go into details. However, I will say I was enjoying the company of an enchanting young person when a weight settle in my lap. Immediately, I recognized this form had warmth which roused me from my slumber.
Having grown up in the 1850’s when horses were our main means of transportation, I can safely say I’m quite familiar with their general physique and shape. I’d spent many hours among those my parents kept for pulling our carriages, as well as for personal riding. And more than once I’d had one of my more favored mares place her head in my lap while I was sitting on the fence of their enclosure. So even without opening my eyes, I knew my visitor was of the equine persuasion. A gentle horsey snort confirmed my suspicions.
At this point I was still not fully awake, but it did occur to me that this encounter out in the wild was rather odd. Not that I minded. Animals in general seem to be attracted to me, perhaps it’s the way I smell that puts them at ease. In any case, I started stroking the side of its face to reassure the animal that I did not mind the intrusion. Still, I couldn't help wondering what was a horse doing out here in the woods? Just I moved my hand moved up to the animal’s long face and encountered an odd bony protuberance.
Immediately my eyes snapped open and I stared down at my visitor and saw a very long white horn sticking out of the animal’s forehead. It was a unicorn. A real live unicorn, and it was resting its head in my lap.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Perhaps 'Odd' isn't the right word for this entry, 'Most Unique' would probably be a better phrase to describe what happened this year. Things certainly didn't go as I'd planned, but at least Lisa is speaking to me again. She's given me the cold shoulder more than once over the years when I've broken one of my promises. Heck who am I kidding, she doesn't give you a simple cold shoulder. That girl can give you a look so cold it would make the iceberg that sank the Titanic turn green with envy.
In fact we were visiting a zoo once when she shot me one of those looks. We were standing next to the penguin exhibit, and I swear every bird in the enclosure closed ranks to keep warm like they do during an arctic storm. Heck, I even tried joining them but they kicked me out as if to say, "Forget it, Pal! You brought this on yourself and we're suffering for it, now go take your medicine."
Needless to say I made nice with Lisa as quickly as possible, while preventing a new global ice age in the process.
So what does all this have to do with Valentine's Day? Simple, I promised to spend it with her and... I didn't make it.
In my defense I had a perfectly good reason for being two days late. You see it all started about a week ago...
I was attending a symposium that was taking place in Tromso, Norway, where one of my old Alma Maters is located. I had attended the University of Tromso - Arctic University about seven years ago, thanks to Otto. He had told me about their Master's Program in Molecular Environmental Biology and thought it might help me gain some new insights to the symbiotic life form which shares and prolongs my existence.
He also pointed out that the timing of the classes coincided nicely with the seasonal Polar Nights in Norway, which meant I wouldn't have to compete with the sun very much. This suited me just fine of course, so of course I quickly enrolled.
Looking back I can easily say I enjoyed my time there. Not only were there some wonderful concerts, but also the location of Tromso offered some of the most spectacular views of the Northern Lights.
Anyway, after the third day of the symposium, I was ready to move on. I'd already listened to the speakers I was most interested in hearing from and didn't feel like hanging around the campus. So I made my way into the main city to explore the architecture and other sights Tromso had to offer. I had just made my way down by the water and was enjoying looking up at the Northern Lights when I heard a familiar jovial voice saying, "Ah, here you are. I see you decided to play hooky instead of attending my presentation.”
Turning I saw Otto walking up to me. He was shaking his head and making tsk-tsk noises. I could tell already by his manner that he had something on his mind, and it didn't take a genius to figure out what it was. Cleary he had learned of another possible Para-Earth incursion and he wanted me to come along to help make sure nothing came through that shouldn't and vice-versa.
And looking back at that last sentence I realize now that I just zinged myself but good. In my defense, our latest adventure has left me a little giddy but once you hear what happened you'll understand.
TO BE CONTINUED...