*Helen and I agreed that this particular snippet from "The Vampyre Blogs - One Day At A Time" was just perfect for this time of year. While it does not cover the entire story, this particular section seemed just right for the holiday season. And as with many of the tales you'll find in this collection, we start laying down the foundation for other stories down the road. We do things like this because we want the Para-Earth Series to be open-ended. There is no specific ending in mind, however there will eventually be closure for some of the characters, but not for a long time to come. We're generating new ideas all the time for existing characters as well as ones you've yet to meet. So rest assured no one is going anyplace just yet. However, there are also untold stories form earlier years like this one. So sit back and enjoy an adventure from Lisa and Marisa's childhood...
HALLOWEEN FRIGHT (2007)
by Helen Krummenacker
Two giggling girls, nine years old, were getting to trick or treat on their own for the first time after solemnly swearing to their parents that they would stick together with the buddy system, not go into any houses, and stick to familiar streets. And Marissa and Lisa really meant it, too, when they gave their word.
But once they’d gotten their sacks more than a quarter full, they were starting to feel like the main part of town was a little bit boring, even with decorations. Marissa’s mummy bandages were meeting with confused remarks by neighbors who were more familiar with hospital dramas than ancient Egypt, nor did Lisa’s top hat and cape read as Mr. Hyde as much as “Abe Lincoln, maybe?”, killing some of the fun of dressing up. Toddlers and their parents, surrounding them on the streets,not only slowed them down with small talk, but stifled any real delightful shiver of uncertainty.
“I know a place,” said Lisa, “where there’s probably no one home, but it would be fun to explore.”
“What do you mean?” asked her best friend.
“Well, I know the owner, but he doesn’t live there. The place has been empty for years,” she told Marissa, savoring the word ‘years’, drawing it out for emphasis. “I don’t mean go in, but there’s woods and a little cemetery--”
“I am NOT going to a cemetery on Halloween night! The place sounds creepy.”
“That’s what makes it fun!”
Marissa grinned quickly, thinking of all the spooky old films she loved. “Yeah.” She thought about it. “How about we get our bikes and go there, but we stay in sight of the road when we’re there and don’t stay too long.”
Lisa nodded. “Sounds smart. But it’s really not going to be too scary. I mean, sometimes things that seem scary at first turn out not to be.” She couldn’t really explain her Uncle Nathan, but it didn’t seem like anything associated with him could turn out bad. After all, he was a vampire… and the sweetest grown-up she knew.
Marissa was enjoying the chill of the air on her face. “It’s beautiful out here.” The moon was overhead, the trees rustled mysteriously, and the scent of pine, cedar, and birch tinged the breeze. “I thought there were a bunch of old mines on this side of town, though. It’s pretty hilly out here.”
“Yeah, I think there were some old ones.” Lisa tried to remember what Nathan had told her. “They used to have a small one on the estate we’re going to, that just took out coal to sell in town in the old days. People used it in their stoves. It closed for a while, but then it was opened during World War II by government order, for industry.”
“How do you know this stuff?”
“I told you, I know the owner. He’s a family friend, basically. And he’s the last of his family, so sometimes he gets, what’s the word… nostalgic.”
They saved their breath to pedal their way up a long uphill stretch. At the top, Lisa stopped to let Marissa catch up. She pointed, “See, you can see the house past the field. I guess they kept this area cleared.”
“Someone’s got sheep grazing there,” noted Marissa. “Sheep aren’t very scary.”
“Does that mean you want to see the cemetery?”
“No! … Maybe.” They nudged each other, shoulder to shoulder, before taking off down the hill towards the big old house that stood under the moonlight, darker patches where the pale paint had flaked off, vines growing onto the expansive porch, trees beyond with branches scant of leaves, many already lost to the aging fall.
It began to feel quite spooky again as they drew closer to see more detail. Faded velvet curtains could be seen through dirty windows. The wind in the trees made suggestive rustling sounds. The creak of their own pedaling could be footsteps on an old, loose floorboard from the rooms above. The girls got off their bikes as they reached a grass-overgrown gravel path leading around the house and began to walk the path, pushing the bicycles by the handlebars, trying not to let the gravel crunch too much under their feet.
It’s not that I’m scared, Lisa told herself. It’s just that it doesn’t seem right to be noisy here. Like being in a library or a museum. It was a matter of respect.
Something cold and clammy touched the back of her neck and she squealed before she could think.
“What is it?!” Marissa whispered, worried.
“A drop of cold water. It fell off of the eaves.”
Indeed, the cool night air was producing condensation and the trees and overhangs slowly, almost silently, loosed accumulated moisture without sparing any thought for the nerves of passers by. “We’re being ridiculous,” Marissa said a little louder. “Thinking drops are a clammy finger or that the gravel is tiny bones crunching under our feet. It’s just an old farm no one lives in anymore. We drive past places like this all the time.”
“Not just like this,” Lisa said defensively. “There was a terrible tragedy here.” She wondered briefly about Marissa’s mention of the gravel sounding like crunching bones. Someone was getting carried away by their imagination, and that someone was not her. “During the Civil War, you know West Virginia and Virginia were on different sides. And the Virginians were very angry about it. There was this point during the war when a mob crossed the border and they killed a lot of people here.”
“I did not want to know that.”
Lisa realized the fun was starting to go out of this for Marissa. “It’s okay. It happened so long ago. And… it’s not like ghosts are real.” There, she’d said it. It might not be a very Halloween thing to say, but she didn’t want her friend to be seriously frightened.
They stood there beside the empty old house in silence for a moment, looking at each other, wondering what they really believed about any of these things. They were not that far from home, really. There wouldn’t be anything wrong with being here for a picnic on a bright, sunny day. Maybe they were only really afraid because they were breaking the rules. Maybe they only got goosebumps because the night was a little damp and the breeze was making them cold.
Or maybe they weren’t quite sure that things didn’t go bump in the night. The breeze, which had joined them in stillness, rose up again, and a small, thin voice was carried with it. “Where is everyone?” It was a girl’s voice, sounding a little younger than they were, or perhaps she just sounded even younger because it was high with a plaintive note.
“Where is everyone?” The voice said again, with a slightly different inflection. Lisa and Marissa opened their mouths and screamed in unison. They climbed back onto their bicycles and got back onto the road. They had pedaled at least a tenth of a mile before they realized they had headed the wrong direction, still travelling away from the town. Now, beyond the house, the trees were the scraggly remains of old orchards, interspersed with volunteer trees grown wild from seeds left by birds or squirrels. Lisa signaled for Marissa to stop.
“Are you okay?” they asked each other at the same time, then laughed a little, still nervous but feeling reassured by friendship.
*And while the girls are catching their breath, we will leave them. To find out what happened next I'm afraid we'll have to keep you waiting a couple of more months. We know the holidays are coming and everyone will be busy with family, parties, etc. and so will we. But rest assured we have more complete stories to share with you here, so please keep checking in and from both of us may you all have a very HAPPY HALLOWEEN.*