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Vampire Boys Of Summer: Chapter 30

Chapter 30: Where’s Angela & Icarus Solved

Ryo had returned to the window, while the others had fallen into silence, giving him room to himself. But I couldn’t take the quiet. There were still many questions in my head.

“What happened to Angela?”

“She remained at school,” Haru replied. “Then she went home.”

“We have to tell her,” I said.

“Tell her what?”

“About you guys.”

“No way,” Ryo replied.

“She has the right to know what’s going on,” I reasoned.

“Why?”

“Because I’m her best friend. And best friends don’t keep secrets from each other.”

Ryo snorted. “I’ve existed long enough without a best friend. I certainly don’t need one now.”

“Well, I do. Maybe that’s what makes me human, and you’re not.” It got quiet. The sudden silence was like a dark cloud had spilled from my very mouth. I looked around at everyone. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that.”

“It’s ok,” Chi replied. “We understand. We lost a lot of things when we became vampires. Even then we didn’t know what we were becoming. We were only wishing to defend our village from…”

“Can Angela keep a secret?” Luhan interrupted.

I nodded, but to be honest I wasn’t sure if she could. Still, I hated hiding so much stuff from her. It had caused enough strain on our friendship.

“I don’t think it’s going to matter before too long,” Haru said. “Everyone is going to know. At least we could prepare her and maybe have another ally.”

Ryo stepped away from the window. “I’ll tell her.”

“No. I will,” I said. I noticed Ryo shot me a look, so I explained. “She’s going to be mad enough for me not telling her sooner.”

He shrugged and turned back to the window.

“It may put her further in danger,” Haru said. “Are you sure this is what you want to do?”

I nodded. “You have all trusted me with your secret. Until now, I haven’t told a soul, not even my own mother. Speaking of which, where is my mom?”

“She insisted life goes on and went to work,” Chi replied. “Haru tried to get her to take some time off to mourn, but she insisted.”

“Does she know what happened at school?”

“Not yet,” answered Luhan. “Oddly enough, no one has called to inform her.”

I shook my head. “That’s strange.”

“They may already have the principal in their pocket.”

“Or my guidance counselor.”

“Whoever their clan leader is, he is powerful,” Chi said. “ He’s spreading his influence pretty rapidly. To have lured Lazenby to the boiler room took some doing. After all, She was already under Ryo’s influence.”

Luhan agreed. “He probably has some lieutenants in training or place already. Only someone moving up in power could have done this. It was possibly someone she never thought to fear before. Maybe another teacher.”

“If they are going after every one connected to us, someone needs to bring my mom home. I don’t care what we tell her, but we need to keep her safe. If they take her, I won’t have any family left.”

“Tomoko is watching over her,” Haru said. “He’ll make sure she is protected.”

I thought back to the attack on the house. What I had seen as I looked back on the stairs, how Tomoko had changed into something dark and terrible to take on the intruders ensured me mom would be okay. But Angela wouldn’t be. She was alone at home, probably upset that Ryo had carried me off into the sunset.

“I need to call Angela and get this over with,” I said. “Where’s my cell?”

Chi turned around in her chair and picked it up off my desk. “Here,” she said and tossed it to me. I caught it easily, which surprised me somewhat. Usually I couldn’t catch anything except a cold.

I woke the cell up, thinking after letting Ang know the truth I sure would like to ship her and Ryo somehow. Before I could press her name in my contacts list, the phone rang. The screen came up with her number. “Wow, she’s calling me,” I said and answered it. “Hi Angela, I was just…”

“Icarus,” a sinister voice interrupted me. “If you want your friend unchanged and unharmed, tell your toothy friends they are not welcome here. It is time for them to leave or there will be more pain than you can imagine.”

I looked at my vampire friends and put the caller on speaker.

“We have already taken your father,” he continued unaware. “We have also taken your teacher, delicious as she was. Now who do we have to take next?” He hesitated a second. “Perhaps this blond hair morsel who secretly dreams lust for a vampire? Her hair is already turning silver from her fear.” He laughed, and if I could I would have bit him through the phone. I looked at both Haru and Ryo. Haru had a fixed grim look on his face. Ryo looked like he could eat someone for dinner. Twice.

“What do you want from me?” I asked the caller.

“You will surrender yourself to us. You should be my queen. It has always been destined, even before they came. So you get rid of them or Angela dies. Then your mom and anyone else I choose.” He laughed again, but there was no mirth in it, only evil promise. Whoever the caller was, they were either completely turned so that none of their human self was left or…

“Are you the master?” I blurted out, suddenly afraid.

“I’m going to be YOUR master,” he chuckled, and for a moment his voice sounded familiar, yet I couldn’t place where I had heard it before.

Ryo couldn’t be quiet any longer. “You’re going to be fucking dead is what you’re going to be,” he snarled.

“Ah, speaker phone. Brilliant, Nora. Tell you what….Ryo, is it…I’m going to rip this bimbo’s head off and set it on my desk if you don’t go away. Or perhaps I’ll give her the sweet burning taste of fire like I did your history hottie.”

Before Ryo could respond, the caller hung up. I looked at Ryo, knowing he would explode into a rage any minute now. Instead he walked calmly back to the window, though his very anger seemed to permeate the room. “This isn’t going to be war,” he whispered between clenched teeth. “I’m going to massacre every last one of them.”

While Ryo was allowed to seethe quietly, I told them about the first part of the conversation, where the caller had demanded I tell them to leave or else. At this, they seemed to confer silently among themselves just by looking at each other.

“Were not leaving,” Haru said after a moment. “We are going to find them and get Angela back.”

“Then they die,” Ryo asserted.

“Not until we find their master,” Luhan suggested. “Because that wasn’t him. That was a kid.”

Any other time this would have sounded funny coming from him. He was, after all, the shortest, youngest looking vampire of our little group.

“Somebody from school?” I asked.

“I don’t think so. You probably would have noticed something off earlier. To be placed with this kind of responsibility and power would take time, unless the master thought they had exceptional potential.”

“Any other bullies at school besides Amanda and her pals?” Ryo asked, still fuming over the recent turn of events.

“No. I can’t think of anyone. No one I have a problem with anyway.”

“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “Whoever it is, we’ll find them.”

“We need to act fast or they could kill Angela,” Chi added. “Where would they be keeping her?”

Haru stood up. “The safest place would be in their lair. Wherever they make home. It would be the most protected.”

“Maybe somewhere high up,” I offered weakly.

“Why would you think that?”

“I don’t know. I keep trying to figure out why I keep getting called Icarus. This is like the third time someone has said that word to me. My guidance counselor said he was a figure in Greek mythology that was punished for flying too high or something. I was going to ask Miss Lazenby because Miss Thomas suggested I talk to my history teacher about….hey, wait a minute. Do you think she knew already? About Lazenby?”

Luhan nodded thoughtfully. “She could have been making a dare she knew would never be achieved. It’s amazing how those under this vampire master’s control like to taunt their adversaries.”

“Icarus made wings to fly,” Chi said. “His father told him not to fly too close to the sun. But he was proud and would not listen. His wings burned and he crashed to the earth.”

“Perhaps he’s saying if you hang too close to vampires….us, I mean…then you’ll burn and die.”

I looked at Haru. “Then it’s a threat, so to speak?”

He nodded. “The question is why does he want us gone?”

“And who is he?” Chi added.

“When you found Bram he didn’t give any clue at all to his identity?” I asked, knowing they had already told me his brain had been scrambled like morning eggs.

“No,” answered Haru. “He was effectively silenced.”

“To keep us from finding his master,” Ryo affirmed.

“So then we have no idea?” I asked, looking at each one of them. It wasn’t lost on me that Chi wouldn’t look at me. I remembered early on, even before my father was killed, she had suggested she might know who it was.

 Before my mind could expand on that thought, Luhan spoke up. “No,” he said. “We don’t. But Icarus is the clue. The caller is taunting Nora. Daring her to figure out who he is.” He looked directly at me. “I don’t think he is referring to you as Icarus.”

 “Is Icarus a clue to his own identity then?” Haru asked.

Luhan nodded, but then Ryo turned to us all, a look of revelation upon his face. “No,” he said. “It’s the location of his lair. Where he’s been hiding all this time. Icarus may have been best known for flying too close to the sun, but he is associated with something else as well.”

“And what is that?” I asked.

“The labyrinth. His father constructed it, just as he had also constructed the wings for Icarus. Perhaps that tells two things . The master who has come to assemble an army here or whatever is merely a pawn of a greater master. Vampire clans follow a chain of command. We may be seeing the creation of several levels of it here, but it doesn’t mean this is where it began.”

“And the other thing?”

“The master we seek is hiding in a labyrinth. It is home to him, and is probably where he holds court….and Angela.”

“I’m a little lost,” I said. “What’s a labyrinth exactly? The only one I’ve heard of is a Jim Henson movie.”

Luhan grinned. “Well you’re halfway to understanding then. In Greek mythology, Daedalus, the father of Icarus, built a huge stone maze to house the Minotaur, a fearsome beast, half man and half bull.”

Haru patted my hand. “I don’t think the beast is what’s important here. Eventually, maybe so, but right now it’s all about the labyrinth. We need to find it.”

Chi shook her head. “I’ve been all around this town since we’ve been here. There’s no maze or labyrinth in Chelsea Valley.”

This seemed to silence everyone, but it gave me the needed moment to think. “You know, maybe there is,” I said.

“Where ?”

“Out by the lake, close to where everyone goes swimming, there’s an old mine shaft. It’s called Devil’s Hole. It’s been sealed off for years. As far as I know, it’s completely blocked, but dad used to tell me how in his college days he and his friends used to go exploring there. I remember because he said it was a maze of shafts, and easy to get lost in. He even said there was a big chamber somewhere in all that where they’d all go and smoke pot.”

“Pot,” Luhan said, a little nostalgic. “I remember that. Couldn’t stand it. I’d go to drink from someone’s neck and bite the top of their head instead. Major vampire impairment.”

“Do you know the precise location of Devil’s Hole?” interjected Haru.

“I’ve never been there. But we can find it.”

“I’m not sure you should go,” he replied.

“I’m a big girl now. I think I’ve shown I can handle myself.”

“These aren’t bullies at school, Nora. These are new vampires. Their lust for blood is uncontrollable. They aren’t like us.”

I looked around the room at my friends. “But they have made it clear they aren’t going to kill me. I’m supposed to be queen or something.”

“Like hell,” Haru said between clenched teeth.

For a moment I reveled in his protectiveness. I know most girls like to get their guys jealous, but there’s nothing hotter than a possessive vampire boy. I couldn’t help but smile inside where he couldn’t see.

“We all should go,” Chi said. “We’re going to need everyone we can get.” She looked at me and smiled. “Just don’t stake the wrong vampire.”

I know it was probably the wrong time to think so, but at the moment I wanted to stake Haru to the floor with my body. I’m not sure if Ryo picked up on this thought or if he was just getting impatient, but either way he interrupted my very pleasant daydream.

“If The Devil’s Hole has been sealed for years and is no longer in use, how did the master even know it was there? He can’t have been here for very long.”

“Someone told him about it?” Chi suggested.

“Possibly.”

“Or perhaps the master is from Chelsea Valley,” Luhan replied. “He’s been here all this time and no one has known it.”

I shook my head. “I don’t keep up with the news much, but I know we don’t get many disappearances or cattle with loss of blood.”

“He could go elsewhere for his food supply. He’s been biding his time for now, living among everyone here, but now he’s ready to make it vampire army central.”

“Maybe,” said Haru. “But if he wants to take over Chelsea Valley, I think that’s just a stepping stone to something else.”

“Right now we need to focus on Angela,” Chi reminded us. “She’s become an unwilling, and certainly unprepared, pawn in all this.

“Yeah,” agreed Ryo. “So are we going to the labyrinth or not?”

I walked over to my closet, where minutes earlier Luhan had been inspecting my clothes like an envious diva. I reached into the back of the cluttered space and pulled out my dad’s vampire kit. I slung it on the bed and opened it. I grabbed my dad’s favorite stake and a vial of holy water.

“Yeah, we’re going,” I said.

“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2016, 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Vampire Boys Of Summer: Chapter 29

Vampire Boys Of Summer Main Page

Chapter 29: Fixing Nora & A Sort Of Meeting

I was adrift on an ocean, buoyed by the right to left motion of the waves. The rhythm of the sea made everything seem there was order in all the chaos of the moment. I managed to open an eye to see the blue sky above me. I felt as if I could drift up and light on the clouds if not for the life preserver that kept me safely in its confines. A life preserver named Ryo.

I turned my head and could see his face above me. He wasn’t looking down at me, but stared straight ahead as the waves threatened to rock me back into unconsciousness. I told myself I wasn’t on the ocean, but was being rocked back and forth by Ryo’s stride as he carried me down an unknown street. This thought was interrupted by the pain that was in my closed eye, spreading out behind it and across my face. It was going to be an awful bruise. One thing I could say for Amanda is she has a powerhouse punch. And horrible tasting blood. I could still taste it lingering in my mouth and on my teeth. I was going to need a whole freaking bottle of mouthwash to rid myself of it.

My head pounded from where I’d been hit with the metal chair, and my arm, back, and shoulder throbbed with a dull ache that seemed to be growing rather than diminishing. Trying to still it, I turned my face towards Ryo’s chest. His natural scent was earthy and it made me think of lying on cool, green moss awaiting the morning dew.

I closed my eyes and dreamed of indiscernible lovers naked in a fog, wrapped in the flesh, turning over and over in a shallow creek bed. One of them had a tattoo that read “loveless”, the other looked remarkably like me. It wasn’t my dream. I didn’t want it. I wanted Haru. I wanted to open my eyes and see that I was wrong. Ryo hadn’t carried me out of the school in his strong arms, it had been Haru. But when my eyes did open, I was laying on a velveted divan in a strange room and Haru wasn’t here. No one was, but myself and a shadow in the corner, sitting on the floor away from the sunlight that tried to peak through the curtains.

I tried to sit up, but I couldn’t. It hurt too much. My head, my eye, my whole body felt as if it couldn’t move without sending a wave of pain through me. The shadow got up and walked towards me. Coming into the feeble light, I saw the hairless chest, tattooed and toned, before his face came into view. Ryo, his long black hair covering one eye, tried to smile, but he too seemed to be in some form of pain, or perhaps just indecision.

“Nora,” he spoke softly. “It doesn’t appear you have had a good day.”

I shook my head and looked around the room the best I could. I knew I wasn’t home, or at Haru’s, or even the Winston house where Ryo had taken up residence. The room appeared too feminine and girly for any of those places. Pink and violet dominated the walls. Unicorn artwork and sculpture, interspersed with walls and walls of books filled up the empty spaces. A chandelier was decorated with dangling multi colored streamers giving one the effect a rainbow was overhead.

“Where am I?”

“You’re at my master’s house. Against my better judgement maybe, but we’re just going to have to trust you. “

“You can trust me.”

He frowned. “We’ll see.”

He then reached under my head and carefully removed the pillow I was resting on. As he began to put it on I realized it wasn’t a pillow at all, but his ruffled white lace shirt. He buttoned it halfway and started to roll up the sleeves.

“Why am I here?” I asked .

“It was the safest place to bring you. Move over.”

At first I didn’t understand what he meant, so when I didn’t move, his dark, smoldering eyes met mine. In a low serious voice he whispered, “I need to sit beside you.”

With a little effort, and quite a bit of pain, I slid over so he had room to sit beside my stretched out form on the divan.

“It seems your life is in serious jeopardy,” he said, taking the seat. “Teachers and students alike want you dead, while rookie vampires attack you at Haru’s. I’m sure they know where I live, so this was the best place to take sanctuary. No one knows where we are.” He let that sink in for a moment before continuing. “I didn’t even know until today. The master believes in moving around…often.”

“Is your master here?”

“Yes.”

The look on his face told me he had disdain for not being his own master, to having to answer to another. “Will I meet him?” I asked.

“No.”

“Then why did you bring me here?”

“Nora Williams, you ask a lot of questions of the one who just wants to help you.”

“But why do you want to help me?”

He stumbled over the answer. “Because…I…I believe Haru would want me to.”

I didn’t believe that was his whole reason, but I let it go. “Where is Haru?”

“He’s at your house making sure it is safe for you to go home.”

I closed my eyes. With my father’s passing, I wasn’t expecting things to get so complicated and dangerous. “I didn’t think it was going to be like this, “ I said.

“Things are a lot different for all of us.” He looked at me, a serious gleam in his eye. “Nora, this is going to be weird, but just bear with me.”

He reached out with his open palm and placed it against my bad eye. For a moment it rested there, just long enough for it make me feel uncomfortable, and then I felt the pull. It was a gentle tug at my skin, as if the blood in my body was trying to rise to Ryo’s touch. His hand moved in a slow, circular pattern, moving outward from the area of my eye, then spread even further by drawing straight lines across my face north, south, east, and west. It felt as if something within me was moving with his hand. It was a strange, almost sensual feeling, as if he were a magnet attracting steel, and moving it where he wanted.

“What are you doing?” I asked nervously, a hot flush coming over my body from my face down to my knees.

“I’m manipulating your blood.”

“Why?”

“You got hit pretty hard. Normally there would be a very bad bruise, black all around your eye. I think she popped a few vessels in your face, too. That could leave permanent discoloration, but I’m fixing that.”

“You’re healing me?”

He nodded. “Something like that.”

“Can all of you do that?”

“No. Just the Alpha’s.”

I knew this was his way of saying, if you want to get healed, I’m your only hope. I was glad that he was doing it for me, but I feared what the price would be.

“Where else do you hurt?”

“Nowhere,” I lied. “Just the eye.”

He sighed and gave me a look of exasperation. “Why don’t you want me to help you?”

I was afraid to tell him the truth, but he already knew.

“I’m not going to demand anything of you, Nora. I just want to help. No strings.” He held out his arms and made a show of checking up his sleeves. “See?”

“You’re not that generous.”

“You’d be surprised how generous I can be. Now tell me, where else does it hurt?”

I reached my hand up to touch the back of my head. I winced from the pain, as it pulled the muscles of my arm and shoulder in the process.

“Everywhere then, “ he said with a lecherous wink.

“Ryo…”

Before I could get another word out, he shushed me and put his hands on my head. I felt his long fingers move across my hair, entwining close to the roots, the tips of them touching my skull. There was a slight tug and it was almost exciting. With his fingers in my hair, he leaned so close I could almost feel his breath in my scalp. I closed my eyes and tried to think of other things.

His hands moved down to the back of my neck, across my shoulder and upper back. The whole while I felt the pull, could imagine the blood flowing inside of me at Ryo’s command. It sent a pleasant chill down my spine and made me catch my breath before it could get away from me. A knot grew in my stomach, an oddly sweet queasiness that embarrassed me. I didn’t want to feel excited by his touch and I demanded my body not to want this.

As if knowing my very thoughts, Ryo’s hands moved from my back to sweep down my arm, the warm rush racing after his fingers. The movement made me shudder in my skin, as his fingertips reached my hand. He stopped and for the very briefest of moments, his fingers laced with mine, before pulling away from me in one sharp motion, breaking the connection with the blood in my body cold turkey. The hot flush within me threatened to chase after his touch, but the feeling passed quickly.

“See?” He said. “That wasn’t too bad, was it?”

I dared to look at him. He was sweating, as if it had taken a lot of energy to heal me. “No, I guess not,” I replied.

He smiled weakly and sat there a moment, his eyes roaming over his handiwork. His close inspection made me feel a little naked and exposed, but I endured it. He got up and walked over to a bureau, where he picked up a large ornate hand mirror and brought it over to me.

“Go ahead, take a look.”

I took the mirror and inspected my face. I don’t know what I expected, if anything, but I gasped at my reflection. There wasn’t a single trace of bruising. In fact, my face looked as if it had never taken a punch. The skin was unblemished, except for a mark that was left behind behind acne back from the seventh grade.

“Sorry, I cant do anything about that,” he explained.

“It’s okay. I’m..wow, Ryo..this is amazing.”

He smiled brighter than I’d ever seen him before. “I’m pleased you like it, “ he said. “But this doesn’t mean you can go picking fights all summer, okay?”

I laughed. “Okay. But this time wasn’t my fault.”

“Well, I think the girl will think twice before assaulting you again. Her neck is definitely going to bear a mark. I guess Haru is teaching you well.”

I blushed and realized this was the first time Ryo and I had laughed together. I’m not sure how I felt about that, but at least the tension that had been in the room was now missing.

“Well,” he said, “I sort of lied when I said I expected nothing in return.”

The tension returned and I froze. I should have known. I should never have trusted him.

“Unfortunately, you cannot know where the master lives. I’m sorry, but those are the rules.”

Before I could even reply and say I would never reveal the location, his hand shot towards my chest, and he placed his palm flat against the skin between my breasts. I felt nothing but the hot rush through my body, moving like a mixture of electricity and blood, somewhere between pain and pleasure, and then I was in darkness, unaware of my fate.

I woke in familiar surroundings. Both of my eyes fluttered open to be greeted to the sight of Asian rock bands and anime characters on my bedroom walls. Some had been there previously, others looked new, including the sketch I had made of Haru. My computer was on and streamin “Heartache”, a song by the Japanese rock band One Ok Rock. The strange thing about it was I had been dreaming about that very song.

Ryo had been in the dream, healing me as he had done in real life. Except here he was telling me it caused him such pain knowing that would be the only way he could touch me. To have me only in a dream. Perhaps that sounds vain on my part, but one does not control the nature of our dreams. I began to wonder if it was even me in the dream. Maybe I was dreaming I was someone else, like the girl he had liked long ago. The one Haru had accidentally killed while trying to turn her. Before I awoke Ryo had been leaning over me and saying in a sing song voice, “They say time takes away the pain, but I’m still the same,” directly referencing the song that I awoke to.

Fully awake, I now looked around my bedroom. It was crowded. My beloved Haru, sat on the floor beside my bed, as close to me as he could possibly be without sitting on the bed itself. Chi sat in the chair at my desk, her long legs straddling it in the same way Haru had done on nights he watched me sleep. Luhan was at my closet, rifling through my clothes, nodding his head in approval at some, shaking his head in disagreement over others. Ryo stood at the open window like a statue, his back to me and looking out onto the night. He was definitely one who liked the nocturnal hours because he seemed to be taking in deep breaths of the cool air and exhaling it slowly as if he were practicing some form of vampiric meditation.

“Hi,” I muttered, trying to address them all at once.

Haru got up from the floor and leaned over me, planting a long kiss upon my cheek. “Baby, you’re awake,” he sighed, the relief in his eyes belying his worry. I wasn’t sure but I think it was the first time he had ever called me baby or any other pet name.

“I’m home,” I replied. “I missed you.”

Through I didn’t think my injuries had been that bad before Ryo fixed them, Haru looked on the verge of tears. “I missed you, too.” He wiped a tear that was forming in the corner of his eye. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there to watch over you. I never should have made you go to school.”

“You didn’t make me. I wanted to go.”

“You didn’t learn much though, did you?” Said Ryo without turning from the window.

I turned my head in his direction. “I learned nearly everyone is coming under a dark power. I learned, or I suspect , that those who attacked the house last night are new vampires, as none of them showed up for school today in the daylight. I learned it’s never too late to patch things up with your friends and that sometimes help comes from the unlikeliest of places.” I stared at the back of his head, wishing he would turn around and face me. “How’s that for learning, Ryo?”

He shrugged his shoulders but did not turn around. “Whatever.”

Chi spoke up. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there to help you, Nora. Luhan and I both were distracted and we didn’t realize the attacks would come from humans under the influence.”

I wasn’t going to let her off the hook that easy. “What distracted you?”

“Your teacher, Miss Lazenby.”

“She wasn’t at school today,” I replied, and for a moment it seemed to take her off guard as I caught her in her lie.

Still she smiled graciously and answered me in a tone that was both corrective and regretful. “Yes she was, Nora. But she never made it to class. She was down in the boiler room.”

When I gave her a confused look, Luhan closed my closet door and added, “She was burnt to a crisp.”

I was in shock. Now I knew why Ryo wa staring out the window and not saying anything nice to anyone. It was his way of dealing with the loss.

“Someone or something lured her down there before school began,” Chi explained. “Then they lured us down to find her at the exact moment you were assaulted in the cafeteria.”

Luhan shook his head as if he couldn’t believe they fell into the trap. “It served two purposes,” he said. “Get rid of one of our allies and make the way for you to be attacked, possibly even killed if Amanda had succeeded in opening your arm up.”

I was bewildered by all this. I mean, Amanda Trump was a supreme bitch, no doubt about it, but a murderer? I didn’t think she had the guts to kill someone and I told Luhan so.

“She wasn’t herself. Like Mr Sharp she was controlled by someone else.” Luhan then grinned. “You putting the bite on her woke her up. Good job on that, by the way.” He winked at me. “Too bad Haru saw you first.” He blew me a kiss and I rolled my eyes at the little pervert.

Haru finally spoke up. “We found Bram. Ryo and I. But he wasn’t in condition to speak. Somebody scrambled his mind as if they were eggs in a pan.”

To say this news was also bad was an understatement. Bram was the grocery store clerk my father had attacked, believing him to be a vampire. Over time in the hospital, I think dad abandoned that idea and became convinced that Bram was a servant to a darker evil, a shadow figure he had seen him talking to. Information gleaned from that persuaded him a vampire invasion was coming. From the looks of things, he was right. All these things happening at once seemed carefully orchestrated, lining things up for another attack perhaps. Bram might have been able to give us some answers, but we were too late.

“All he could manage to tell us was that he’d been replaced by a school kid,” Haru continued. “He kept mumbling it over and over. We got the impression this vampire master found a better prospect for his right hand man.”

“Are you thinking Amanda Trump?” I asked.

“She would certainly fit the bill with her capacity for cruelty,” Chi replied.

Ryo finally turned around to face us all. “They didn’t have to kill my servant. I had given her life. Everything she ever aspired to be, I granted her. They took it all away. They took her away.”

I saw tears forming in his eyes, but whether they were out of sorrow or rage I couldn’t tell. The only thing I saw in his eyes was the desire for retribution.

“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2016, 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Article about Amazon Books

https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/5/19/15596050/amazon-buy-box-publishing-controversy

The above article was pointed out to me, so I thought of sharing it. If you have books available for purchase through Amazon or you are considering publishing soon, this may be worth the read. If anything it may enlighten you to changes in how books get promoted and who is getting paid for your hard work. 

On a personal note, this is one of the reasons I abandoned most of my efforts to write for a living. It’s crazy out there for authors to make a buck. Though I’d love to be paid for my work, I have become content at the moment with just sharing my writing with those who like to read. On Amazon, you practically have to give books away to get readers anyway. Hopefully things will change in both the publishing world and my attitude about my place in it 😉

Vampire Boys Of Summer: Chapter 27

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Chapter 27: Angela & Rabid Arithmetic

As I dressed for school, Haru gave me the rest of the details of my father’s murder. After all, that’s what it was. Cold, calculated murder designed to send the message: Those who hunt vampires will die. They had strung up my father in his room, looped the rope up through the ceiling and wrapped it around the heating duct. According to Haru, they had also bit him in the neck and wrists in order to bleed him out, but they didn’t drink his blood. This made me think of my jigsaw man dream days ago with dad hanging on a cross in the school auditorium. In the vision, vampires had drunk from the students but wouldn’t touch his blood, as if it would leave a bad taste in their mouths. It was then I thought of Mom in a dead sleep having some of her blood sucked out by Jake.

“Where’s my mother?”

“She’s okay,” Haru replied. “Tomoko stitched her up. Told her she took a fall.”

“How do you pass off vampire bites as a fall?”

Haru grinned. “My uncle’s powers of persuasion are unmatched.”

He didn’t need to explain further. If Ryo could almost get into my head and make me do and feel things, then the older vampires probably had it honed to an art.

“She won’t become a vampire, will she?”

Haru raised an eyebrow, as if to say, what’s wrong with being a vampire, and then smiled. “No, she’ll still be human. They didn’t take enough blood from her. She might be physically weak for awhile, but it will pass. I can’t say the same for her attacker.”

I shuddered at the memory of Jake exploding when the vampire poison had passed to him through my mother’s blood.

“You should shudder for Ryo,” Haru said. “He’s the one who had to clean up the mess.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Not your fault, Nora. You’re not the one who sent them after you.”

“Who did?”

“We don’t know yet. Finding the master of a vampire clan is not always easy.”

I looked at him. “Well, they found your uncle Tomoko easy enough.”

He smirked. “He’s not the master of our clan.”

I was surprised. “Can I ask who is?”

He hesitated a moment, as if weighing his options. “It’s best you don’t know. The name could be coaxed out of you by your father’s killers, and then we’d all be in jeopardy.”

I was disappointed he couldn’t trust me with this, but I understood. I sat on the edge of my bed and laced up my Chucks. I wondered what in the hell I was doing. I mean, dad had just been killed by vampires and I was getting ready to trudge off to school as if it were nothing. I wasn’t even sure if mother would let me out the door considering the circumstances. She wasn’t aware I had bad bloodsuckers after me, but despite that I needed time to mourn. Everyone who has ever lost someone knows it takes time before you can move beyond the death and carry on. Perhaps Haru had seen so much of it that it was just another day to him. Maybe death didn’t faze him or his kind for they had cheated it.

I tried to tell him how I was feeling. He seemed sympathetic to my feelings of loss, but he did take mild exception to how I perceived his family. “We didn’t cheat death. No one does. It catches up to us all one day.”

“Your vampirism doesn’t give you immortality?”

“It gives us the illusion of it. I will die someday, of this I’m sure. Perhaps it may be at the hands of enemies, or maybe even my own, but the truth is no one lives forever. Through our curse, death is held at bay, and we live longer than humanity should allow, but God will not be mocked. Our judgement will come eventually.”

I didn’t know what to say. I guess I assumed Haru, Ryo, and the others were eternal creatures. To know they would all die one day made me sadder than I had been before.

“Oh don’t fret for us, Nora. In this sense we are just like you and want to live life to the fullest.” He approached me on the bed and knelt in front of me. He took my hand in his. “I’d like to live mine with you , if you don’t mind.”

My breath caught in my throat. There’s a certain tone that overcomes his voice when he is talking of romantic things. I can’t explain it, but it sends a rush through me, a warmth that courses through my body, making me want his kisses more than anything.

“I want that, too,” I whispered. I closed my eyes and welcomed his gentle kiss. Going to school was forgotten. You see, time stands still for lovers, even if they are on the brink of their own destruction.

I did make it for the last day of school, but I was a little late. Time may stand still sometimes, but it speeds to catch up eventually. Because of that, I missed the bus. I probably could have gotten mom to take me, but Haru offered to give me a ride. I don’t think he was worried I would run into trouble on the way. I think he just thought it was the gentlemanly thing to do. He may have embraced a modern attitude about some things, but he still had this old world way of thought. I really liked that about him. It was a quality that no one else had, not even Ryo.

Haru kissed me when we pulled up in front of school and told me I didn’t really have to be here if I didn’t want to. We could just as easily go back home. He seemed to understand the dilemma of going to classes the morning after a parent had died.

“No,” I told him. “I need to do this. Dad wouldn’t want me to be sitting around and moping. He’d want to me to be preparing for the invasion he was talking about. We need to know if anything else happened last night and if any of the others involved in the attack show up for school.”

He smiled and nodded. “You always impress me, Nora. Your resilience and strength is to be commended.”

“I wouldn’t be strong without you,” I replied, getting out of the car. I walked around to the driver’s side and leaned inside his window. “A kiss for luck, please.”

He obliged me, his lips full upon my own. With Haru’s kisses I felt like I could face anything. But it made me wonder what he was going to face.

“What are you going to do today?” I asked.

“Ryo and I are going grocery shopping.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Grocery shopping?”

“Yes. It’s time to find that Bram guy your dad was talking about. It all started with that confrontation. If we can find him, maybe we can find the one behind your father’s killing and the attack on you.”

“Please be careful.”

“I will. Say hello to Angela for me.”

Angela. In all the madness of last night, I had forgotten about her. Last time we had spoke it hadn’t ended on good terms. I hadn’t wanted her to go see Ryo, but she had misunderstood my reasons. Even now though, I thought my reasons had been stupid. I wanted to protect her, but I should have stayed out of her attempts at a love life. Maybe I was jealous in a way. Maybe for once I had wanted to be the one to have a boyfriend, and for her to be the loner. I needed to stop being selfish and let her do exactly as she wanted. She’d find out Ryo was a vampire soon enough. How she handled that when the time comes would be up to her.

I smiled at Haru. “I’ll tell her hi, but I don’t know if she’ll show up today. She’s notorious for skipping.”

“I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that.” He turned his head towards the school and nodded.

I followed his gaze and saw Angela come out the front doors to stand at the top of the stairs, as if she had been waiting for me to arrive. I gave Haru a quick kiss and walked around the car to start up the walk towards her. She came down the steps, a sympathetic look on her face. At first there were no words, just a hug followed by tears. I cried in her long blond hair, and she in turn wet the side of my cheek.

“I’m so sorry,” she said. “Mom saw it on the news this morning.”

I didn’t know what to say. “Thank you,” was all I could come up with.

“I should have been there for you,” she continued.

I pulled away from her. “I should have been there for you, too,” I replied, wiping my tears with the back of my hand. “I was a jerk to you the other day. I’m sorry.”

“I was a bigger jerk,” she replied. “Forgive me?”

“No, you forgive me first,” she insisted.

“Uh-uh, you first.”

She grinned. “No way, bitch. Forgive me first.”

We both laughed at our playful argument and knew there was no forgiveness necessary. We’d always be besties. Nothing was going to change that, not even boys.
Entering school together, we both noticed something was off. I mean we knew it was the last day of school, and some of our peers and classmates would be trying to start summer break early, but there was now a large number of students that were absent. I knew the most likely reason for this, but I couldn’t confide in Angela about it, bestie or not. I had promised Haru I’d keep their secrets.

The first ones we noticed missing were the football team. Of course, I knew that at least some of them had been part of last night’s attack on Haru’s house, but today the whole team was absent, including the coach and his assistant.

“That’s weird,” Angela said, and at first I thought she was talking about the jocks, but she pointed down the hall to Mr. Sharp’s math class. A bunch of students were standing out in the hall talking in curious, worried tones, strange bewildered looks on their faces. A few of them, girls mostly, looked like they would hurl up their breakfast any moment. We hurried down the hall to see what was happening.

Maneuvering through the crowd in the doorway, I managed to get a look inside the room. Mr. Sharp sat behind his desk. On your average day he was a well dressed, perfectly groomed kind of man. Suit, tie, clean shaven, not a hair out of place. Young and good looking, he was popular with the female students. Today however, he was different. He looked rough. Clothes disheveled, hair a mess as if he had pulled clumps of it out, unshaven beard with what looked to be bits of food clumped in it. But perhaps it wasn’t food in the normal sense, for he sat there with a half eaten rat hanging out of his mouth, gnawing on it like a ravenous, rabies infested dog.

“Oh My God,” Angela whispered under her breath, coming up alongside me. “What the hell is wrong with him?”

“I don’t know,” I muttered in reply, but all I could think of was Renfield in Dracula. Had Mr. Sharp been turned into a vampire’s servant? Or was this the ugly process of turning into a bloodsucker? First rats, then humans?

As if he knew my thoughts, the math teacher looked up and made eye contact. His pupils clouded over and a slow grin began to spread across his face. “Nora,” he garbled, his voice sounding like he was drowning in water.

“Uh oh,” I said and backed out of the doorway, just as he leaped on top of his desk. With a big gulp, he swallowed the rest of the rat and jumped off the desktop, heading for me. Students screamed and bolted in every direction. He came out into the hallway, snarling and foaming at the mouth. Angela shoved me out of the way and snarled back at him, like you would a dog that had run out of its yard to chase you on your bike. He was distracted long enough for me to get my back pack off and swing it at him. Laden with books, it connected with his head. The force was enough to knock him off his feet. He nearly did a somersault on his way to the floor. Angela took several steps towards him, her short black skirt swirling about her legs. She put a well placed kick right in his groin, and while it may have slowed him down, he soon recovered and was getting to his feet again.

“Icarus,” he growled in a tone of contempt, pushing her to the side and launching himself towards me again. This time however, he was taken down by two teachers who had come running up the hallway. They tackled him and pinned him to the floor. He writhed and squirmed in their grasp, snapping his teeth at them. I figured it wouldn’t be long before he was up again and coming for me. The teachers were strong, but there was no holding a madman. He needed a sedative and I didn’t think the school nurse had anything like that. Still, she came running, along with our guidance counselor, Miss Thomas.

“What is going on here?!”

I turned to answer Miss Thomas, and the rabid math teacher broke free. Flinging the other teachers from him as if they were fifty pound weaklings, he was at me before I even knew it. He grabbed me by my shoulders and shook me. “Soon it will be your turn,” he snarled in a low voice only I could hear. “You will be the slave, groveling at the feet of my master.”

“Your master is a coward,” a voice said from behind him. Before anybody knew what was happening, the speaker wrapped their arms around Sharp’s head and squeezed. His eyes started to roll up in his head and he let me go. Chi tightened her grip, enfolding him within her arms so much you could barely see his face. You could almost hear the air escaping his body in a gasp for breath. Within seconds his body went limp and he collapsed in her arms. She eased him to the ground where he lay still and unconscious. Chi wiped her hands on her skin tight leather pants and with a toss of her long shimmering tresses said, “You’re getting to be high maintenance, Nora.”

Everyone in the hallway was stunned. Rendered mute, they all just stared at Chinatsu, until finally she shrugged and explained with a playful smirk, “I watch wrestling on the weekends.”

Miss Thomas regained her composure and began to take charge, telling the students to go on to their classes, now that the excitement was over. Then she approached us, her eyes taking in Chi in a suspicious manner.

“Thank you, young lady,” she said. “That was some quick thinking and a very brave thing to do. I don’t believe I have seen you here before. What’s your name?”

The Japanese vampire put on her most gracious smile without showing her fangs. “I just started last week. I’m Chinatsu, but my friends call me Chi. You can call me Chi, too.”

I didn’t know if she used some kind of vampiric hypnosis, but her response and tone seemed to take the suspicion right out of the guidance counselor.

“Oh well, thank you for your assistance in handling….” She looked at the unconscious Mr. Sharp, who was now being lifted from the ground by the two teachers, and didn’t know how to finish her sentence.

“No problem,” Chi replied. “It’s surprising what you pick up after eight hundred years of high school.”

I didn’t know if she was making a crack at the middle aged Miss Thomas or poking fun at her own experience as one of the undead, but either way, everyone couldn’t help but laugh. It was especially good for me having feared for my life just minutes ago.
“Vampire Boys Of Summer”  2016, 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

The Train (flash fiction?)

The elevated train goes by outside my apartment window, it’s vibration on the track stirring me from my dream. Gone are the sprawling green meadows, snow capped mountains, and clear rolling rivers. Instead I am awakened to industry, crowds, and the fact I will soon be boarding the train that will carry me through the boroughs on my way to a job behind four walls, where I never feel the sun on my face or the breeze running through my hair. 
I am sick with longing. I watch videos on YouTube of other places, views from other trains, and wish to be there in quaint villages, walking on single lane roads by farmhouses and pastures, saying hello to people I meet and their livestock, as I worry about nothing except how hard the rain is supposed to fall tomorrow. No worry about the noise from the people upstairs, deadlines from supervisors who don’t work for their promotions, or the steady vibratory hum from the train outside my window on its way to its one hundred and fifty-seven stops in the city. 
I’m twenty-nine years old. Life is not supposed to be like this. I don’t know what I expected it to be, but not this. I look at all my Facebook friends and they seem so happy, as if everything is perfect, and yet I’m here behind these dull four walls I can barely afford, being awakened by the click-clack of the train, reminding me to get up and go to a job that I hate, dodging through crowds of strangers I don’t want to know. I just wish for once that when I board the train it would take me somewhere else. Somewhere different. Somewhere more adventurous than this…
By Paul D Aronson.

Vampire Boys Of Summer: Chapter 26

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Chapter 26: The Poisoned & The Saved

Mom was lying on the bed sound asleep. My first instinct was to wake her and alert her to the fact the house was under attack. But Tomoko had warned me not to, so instead I closed and locked the door. Bracing my back against it, with dad’s wooden stake in hand, I listened for sounds of approaching attackers. I couldn’t believe they were vampires. My new next door neighbors were one thing, but these were kids I’d gone to school with for ages. My seventh grade crush was out there. So was Amanda Trump’s boyfriend. As I had watched them come across the yard minutes ago, I recognized a few of the other guys were from the football team. Not that I would ever have associated with them, but I knew who they were. And they weren’t vampires. They couldn’t be. But what had been the shadow figure Tomoko had fought at the bottom of the stairs? I couldn’t see any of the students at school, no matter how bad they were, breaking into someone’s house armed with baseball bats. Something certainly wasn’t right in Chelsea Valley.

From downstairs came the sound of breaking glass again. Indecipherable shouts echoed through the house. I didn’t know how many intruders were inside now, but Tomoko was alone against them all. I looked at my mother on the bed. She was curled up in a fetus position, sleeping more peacefully than she ever had before. One could never tell she’d just lost her husband. If only Tomoko and his clan could take her memories and wipe them clean so she would never know the pain of losing someone close. I took a deep breath, knowing what I had to do. Even if it caused mother to lose someone else, I couldn’t leave Tomoko alone to fight them all. I gripped my stake tight and threw open the bedroom door.

I stepped back in alarm. Two boys were in the hall, leaning against the doorframe. One of them was tall, lanky, with long blond hair. I didn’t recognize him as anyone from school. The other one I knew. His name was Jake, or maybe Alan, I couldn’t remember. He was in my History class. Sat in the back and was always making smart ass comments to the teacher and fellow students alike. None of the girls liked him. He had greasy dark hair, fierce acne, and bad breath. Except now, in the bedroom doorway, he had none of that. His hair was healthy and perfectly styled. Every trace of acne was gone. And his breath was…well, that hadn’t changed. It could still knock you down.

“Hi there, Nora,” he spoke, stepping towards me. “Something tells me you are going to miss the last day of school.”

The other guy laughed, tossing his blond hair back with his hand as if he wanted me to notice he was beautiful or something. He wasn’t.

Jake, Alan, whatever his name was, looked beyond me. “Oh wow, who’s bedroom is this?”

I didn’t hesitate. I brought the stake up and drove it into his flesh. He howled, but I had missed my mark. Instead of his heart, I’d gotten his shoulder. He shoved me with the flat of his hand. I stumbled backwards and tripped over my own feet. I broke my fall as best as I could, but I still landed with a thud on the hard floor. It almost knocked the wind out of me, but I rolled under the bed to get away from him, as he stalked into the room. He grasped the handle of the stake and pulled it out of his shoulder.

“Now that hurt, bitch,” he growled. “I’m going to show you how it feels.”

He knelt down and looked under the bed. With a grin he reached for me. Grasping the bottom of the box springs, I thrust myself towards him feet first. He wasn’t expecting me to come to him easy, so it was a surprise when I kicked him in the face.

“I’ll get her,” Blondie said, and came around the other side. He too knelt down to look under the bed, but I wasn’t in a position to defend myself on that side. He grabbed a handful of my hair and began to haul me out. I screamed.

The vampire with the now bruised face had gotten to his feet. He shut the bedroom door and locked it. Turning around to face me, he grinned and hefted the stake in his hand. Blondie had pulled me to my feet and held my arms behind my back.

“I could stake you in the shoulder too,” Jake hissed. “Or maybe my aim will be true and I’ll get your heart.” He walked towards us and stopped right in front of me. He put the point of the stake against my chest. “But it would be a waste not to take a taste first.”

I wasn’t sure if he meant my blood, or something else, but either way I struggled in the grip of Blondie, trying to break free. It was no use. These two had me where they wanted me. I looked at mom passed out on the bed and frowned.

The vampire noticed, and followed my eyes to rest on my mother’s prone form. “Or perhaps,“ he said, “I’ll take it from someone else.” He grinned. “Hello Mommy.”

“No, please don’t,” I begged. “You can have me, but leave her alone.”

He laughed in his throat and threw the stake down on the bed beside mom. Then, he knelt over her. He straddled her on the mattress. “A little old for me, but blood is blood they say.” He let out a triumphant howl and thrust his face against her neck. His teeth sunk into flesh, but she still did not wake from the assault. I hoped where he bit her it wouldn’t leave too big a scar.

He drank deep and Blondie let out a loud whooping yell as if his favorite team had just scored. I held my breath and eyed the stake on the bed. Even if I could break free, I’d never reach it before Jake did. Still, the triumphant vampire was distracted by the taste of fresh blood. He licked his lips and I could see Mother’s blood on his tongue. He attacked her neck again, and I could hear this horrible sucking sound as he indulged his uncontrollable blood lust.

I struggled in Blondie’s grip again, but he held me tight and laughed. “Maybe I will just take me a bite too,” he said. I could feel his hot, pungent breath on the back of my neck. “I bet you taste so…”

Just then, Jake began to gag. Blondie looked at him. “Slow down, dude,” he admonished, before realizing something was wrong. Blood dripped down Jake’s chin and he seemed to be trying to spit the rest out of his mouth.

“Whats the matter?” I asked. “Get some bad blood?”

Jake looked up, a look of alarm in his eyes. “What did you do?” he hissed, still trying to rid himself of mother’s blood.

Blondie shoved me and pushed me towards the bed. Jake rose up, reaching for me, and then the first convulsion hit, twisting and contorting his body like he was a gymnast in the Cirque du Soleil. He fell back on the bed screaming, and with his hands tried to wipe the blood from his lips. He put his fingers inside his mouth trying to get it off his tongue but the convulsions were so bad he bit off his own fingers. He retched and gagged, rolling off the bed and onto the floor where his body spasmed, legs and arms flailing about.

Blondie let me go and ran to his friend. That was the only break I needed. I jumped on the bed and grabbed the stake. Blondie, who was kneeling at his friend’s side, was busy trying to hold him down. He didn’t notice when I launched myself from the bed. Jake exploded.

It’s not just a figure of speech to say it was like a bomb going off inside him. Perhaps the poison Tomoko had spoken of reacted that way. All I know was I was leaping over Jake towards Blondie when it happened. The force blew us in opposite directions, and we were followed by body parts and blood. I was colored crimson and the stench of Jake’s insides filled the room.

Blondie was too stunned to do anything but to try and back pedal away from his friend’s putrid remains. His eyes darted in my direction and a newfound fury crossed his face. He started to get to his feet when the bedroom door burst open behind him. Haru’s other uncle, The jigsaw puzzle man, entered the room. His once dark eyes were now aflame, his pale, unnatural skin contrasting against the blood that dripped from his lips and chin to paint his once white shirt. He opened his mouth and an unholy moan escaped his throat. The only teeth he had were his fangs, but it was enough. Before any of us could react he grabbed Blondie and bit down into the top of his head. There was a sickening crunch and I too screamed, as Jigsaw clutched Blondie with fingernails and fangs. Blondie screamed and tried to get away, but it was no use. His struggles were a futile attempt. Blood seemed to rush through his horrified eyes on its way to the the top of his head. But the puzzle man wasn’t just taking his blood; he seemed to be taking everything, draining Blondie to an empty husk.

I couldn’t look anymore and did the only thing I could to escape the horror. I passed out.

I don’t know how long I was out but when I awoke, I was naked and back home under the covers in my own bed. At first I thought I had been dreaming the whole thing, for when I opened my eyes I saw that Haru was straddling the chair at my desk watching me. He smiled.

“Welcome back,” he said. “I thought I was going to have to wake you. It’s only a couple more hours until school.”

I raised a hand to my head. I had something of a migraine with the smell of blood still in my nostrils. “It’s the last day. I could skip.”

He nodded. “Yes, you could.” He got up and walked over to the bed. “But it might be a good idea to go. Keep up appearances and maybe see who is who. I’m curious to know if anyone knows what happened last night.”

“I’m not sure myself.”

He sat down on the bed beside me. “Nora, I am sorry.”

“Sorry for what?”

“I wasn’t here to protect you as promised. They split us up on purpose, hoping my uncles were too weak to defend anyone.”

I had to laugh. I didn’t think his uncles were weak in any shape or form. If anything, they were downright terrifying.

“What do you mean split us up?”

“The trail of victims was designed to lead us out of town, all the way to the asylum. They knew we’d never get back in time when we realized it had been a ruse.”

“A ruse? Do you mean there wasn’t a trail of dead victims?”

He shook his head. “No, there was. But there was no reason for it, other than to lure us away. Well, except for the last victim.”

He didn’t have to say who that was. The bodies had led them all the way to the asylum. And to my father.

Haru hung his head. “I am sorry. He didn’t deserve to die like that.”

“To die like what?”

He looked away. “Never mind that. Chi will accompany you to school. Luhan will be there too. They won’t let anything happen.”

“Tell me, Haru.”

“Tell you what?”

“How my father died. The hospital said he hung himself. What really happened?”

He hesitated a moment and then kissed my cheek. Perhaps he thought it would bring comfort.

“Please,” I pleaded. “I have to know.”

Haru looked like he was about to cry. He barely knew my father. The tears he was fighting wasn’t for him though. They were for me. He took a deep breath and then told me the truth.

“He was hung. But he didn’t do it himself. They strung him up.”

“Vampires?”

“Unfortunately yes. I’m sorry.”

“It wasn’t you or your family,” I replied. I moved closer to him on the bed and the covers fell away. My nakedness didn’t bother me. “I guess dad was right. They were coming for him.”

Haru took me in his arms and I lay my head on his shoulder. The closeness cried for his comfort and I let the tears come.

“It’s okay,” he whispered, and his voice was soothing and resolute. I knew he was right. It would be okay. Maybe not right now, but soon. “We’ll find them,” he promised.

“What happened to the ones who attacked your house?”

“Most of them fled. Probably back to their master. There were a few casualties, but you already know that.”

“Yes,” I agreed, remembering the vampires in my room and their horrible fates.

“My uncles held their own. I knew they would.”

“I hope they weren’t the ones who brought me home and got me naked.”

I could feel his smile against my cheek. “No, that was me. Sorry, but I had to burn your clothes. They were covered in blood and stuff.”

I closed my eyes on the thought of exploding Jake and Blondie with fangs crunching through his skull. I shivered and Haru’s lips kissed my neck. It calmed my nerves and relaxed me to the point where he too could have bit and drank from me. But he didn’t. He just held me close and rocked me in his arms until it was time for school.
“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2017 Paul D Aronson.

Writing Prompt: Put Down That Book and Fight Me

Here we go with another writing prompt to get the creative juices flowing. Today’s task is to write a short story beginning with the phrase, Put down that book and fight me. 

If you want to participate, it’s easy. Just start writing 😉 Feel free to share what you write in the comments, or provide a link to your blog so others can see what you’ve come up with.

Have fun! 🙂

+++++++++

“Put down that book and fight me.”

The old man in his easy chair didn’t look up. “I admire your tenacity, but I truly must finish this chapter.”

“To hell with your chapter. Stand up and defend yourself.”

“Ones defense is not determined by some notion to get up from your reading chair. Now if you don’t mind, I only have a few paragraphs left and you are interrupting my solitude.”

“You can have solitude when you’re dead,” the young assassin exclaimed. To prove his point, he swished his sword back and forth as if he were cutting through the very air. 

The old man ignored him and continued to read. So intent he was on the written word, his killer could have trashed every shelf in the library and he wouldn’t have budged from the comfort of his chair. In this, the newly arrived Intruder would have to take more drastic measures with his intended target.

“I will give you to the count of five to put your book down and fight. After that, I will kill you where you sit.”

Still, the old man read on, as if the assassin’s voice was nothing but the whisp of a memory echoing in the room. He turned to the next page of his book, and continued to take in each word. A slight smile crossed his face in the same way we ourselves might exhibit when reading a particular clever passage in our favorite tome.

The killer, shuffled from one foot to another as he counted. “One…”

He waited a beat. “Two…”

The old man’s eyes glued to the page, as he nodded in satisfaction.

The killer gripped the hilt of the sword tighter. “Three…”

He took one step forward. “Four…”

A breath. He raised his sword, preparing for the deadly swing. 

Crack! An excruciating pain in his ankle. He staggered back on his other foot, looking down unbelieving at the damage. He hadn’t even seen the old man move, and yet his his leg had shot out from him in deadly precision to strike the breaking point of the killer’s ankle. The rest of him had not moved, and in fact still sat in the high backed leather chair engrossed in his book.

“Oh, you are so dead,” the assassin snarled and charged forward, his sword swinging forward in an arc towards the chair. Before he reached it however, it was flipping backwards, the old man still in it, tumbling over twice until the avid reader was buried under it.

The sword had missed its mark and struck only fabric, enraging the killer. With his good foot, he tried to sweep the chair over on its side so he could see the old man, but the chair was too big and he staggered and swayed off balance. Regaining his footing, he thrust the point of the sword through the chair. 

Thunk! The tip of the sword didn’t meet flesh and bone, but the solid wood of the floor. The old man wasn’t under the chair. 

Looking up, he spied him right away. He was standing by the fireplace. In one hand he held a hot poker, just removed from the embers. In the other, the book he had refused to put down. He raised the volume to eye level and began to read again. 

Angered to the point where the broken ankle no longer mattered, the assassin charged, the arc of his sword swishing back and forth in crisscross movements before him. 

Holding the book out at arms length, the old man brought the poker to bear, gray ash flying off its tip. Sword met poker with a clang. The metal vibrated in their hands, but neither dropped their weapon. Instead, they parried back and forth, the old man taking the lead by driving the young killer back, while the would be assassin himself couldn’t believe the elderly gentleman in coattails still had not put down the book, even while fighting.

This distraction was too much to bear, and the old man with one swift twist of the poker, disarmed his attacker. The sword flew across the room, too far away to be retrieved. With a roundhouse movement , he swept the legs out from under his younger opponent. 

The youth landed on his back hard, the breath nearly knocked out of him. The hot poker was inches from his chest as the old man leaned over him. But the victor was not gloating, nor was he even paying attention. On the contrary, he was still reading. 

He nodded his head, smiled, and put his heel upon the young man’s chest to let him know he was not to get up. He snapped the book shut. He took a deep, satisfactory breath and tossed the poker away. Leaning down, he looked in the young man’s nervous eyes.

“The true reader doesn’t allow anyone to interrupt the tale,” he said.

The fallen warrior shook his head. “I can’t believe you beat me,” he whined.

“I was finished with the chapter.”

The old man reached down with his free hand and helped his student to his feet.