Okay, so first off, I wake this morning thinking I needed to do something this morning. Well, it’s trash day. That must be it. I have nothing on my calendar. So what else could it be? I’m running around, wracking my brain, coming up with nothing. But it just seemed like there was something else I was supposed to do. Something IMPORTANT. Other than taking out the garbage, working on bears, working on word count, doing critiques, writing my blog. JUST SOMETHING.
I’m out with the puppies, cleaning up after them when I see the most awesome sunrise ever. So I dash into the house, puppies right on my heels, grab the camera, and dash out the front door because you know sunsets and sunrises don’t wait for anyone.
It was the perfect vampire sunrise!
And that triggered what I was forgetting!!!!! My special something for Monday! A free short story: One Last Job. And boy, can I relate. Can you?
One Last Job
by Terry Spear
Ida Mae Bremerton studied the cloth that bound her wrists as the faint glow of candlelight flickered off one of the walls. She shook her head at herself in the dark great room. All she could think of was her niece, Rachel Bremerton, whose uncle, her brother, didn’t believe in women hunting vampires. Give me a break! But then again, Rachel had fallen in love with a vampire! Still, he had been a hunter. Ida Mae was glad her branch of the family didn’t see anything wrong with women huntresses.
“I can’t believe I could get myself into this same predicament, twice this week. I must really be losing it!” She sighed deeply, not giving up, just…thinking. The vampires’ minions had tied her up while the vampires slept until this evening.
Glancing at the sliver of a crack in the heavy drapes that covered the floor-to-ceiling-length atrium door, she frowned to see the light fading fast. “They’ll be coming for me soon.” She wriggled and struggled until she was finally able to pull her hands free of the cloth. “Good thing their henchman can’t tie knots worth a fig!”
Freed, Ida Mae ran to the blackened glass door, her arthritis pinging in her left knee. She jerked the door open to see the sun setting in an orange ball of fire. She bolted down the path to her car and pulled the door open. After sliding into the driver’s seat and slamming her door shut, afraid the sound would alert every vampire in the house she was there, she poked her key into the ignition while the sweet scent of garlic filled the interior of the Trans Am. She glanced down at the passenger’s seat to see her necklace of garlic curled in a loop.
“That’s what I forgot to wear,” she mumbled under her breath. Not that she really thought it worked, as in repelled vampires, but it was her good luck charm. Not once had she been captured by a vampire’s blood bonds while wearing it.
After mashing down the gas peddle, she braced as the car lurched forward, then roared around the circular drive of the old Victorian mansion. She turned back toward the south side of the city, Dallas,…and home.
When she drove into her driveway, she was surprised to see her sons’ cars parked there already.
“Mom!” Thomas, the eldest exclaimed, hurrying out of the house to greet her. “We’ve been worried something awful!” He glanced down at the red marks on her wrists. He frowned at her as he put his arm around her shoulders and led her into the home. “Tell me you didn’t go after them on your own.”
They’d had this discussion before. Her sons wanted to use caution. She wanted to take the vampires out before they increased their numbers. That was the difference between the good ones—the ones who lived among them and behaved, and the rogues, who turned people against their will. “I guess I forgot to tell you the plan.” Not really. She had her own plan. In fact, she and her deceased husband would have done this together. She didn’t know why her sons were so restrained all the time. Don’t delay, get it done, was her motto.
“You’ve been doing an awful lot of that, Mom,” her younger son said. “Forgetting the plan, I mean.”
John was gifted with the bow, Thomas with the sword. She couldn’t have been prouder of her sons. Though she wished they would settle down and give her grandchildren.
“Yes, well, I’ve had a lot of things on my mind of late.”
They exchanged glances as she entered the kitchen and plugged in the coffee pot. Tom cleared his throat. “We’ve been talking about the matter, and you know after Dad died, you haven’t been quite yourself lately.”
“Nonsense,” Ida Mae said. But it was true. She’d missed him terribly. She kept thinking of all the vampires they’d taken down over the years, how they’d do it until they were ready to retire, which was next year.
“It’s true. You’ve been forgetting an awful lot lately.” John stared at the coffee pot for a moment, then unplugged it. He shook the pot, then hearing nothing inside said, “It’s dry as the desert, Mom.”
“Oh.” Ida Mae grabbed the pot from him and poked it under the faucet. “You’re distracting me.” She was a multi-tasker extraordinaire, but sometimes she forgot one of the steps in the multi-tasking department.
“You know, Dad said that the two of you were thinking of retiring from the business.”
“Next year. Yes, well, he died before we had a chance. The business is all I’ve ever known. What would you have me do?”
“You loved to dance. Why not try the senior citizen’s dance that’s scheduled tomorrow night?”
“I can’t retire from my work. You boys need me.”
“Of course. But couldn’t you at least take a little time off from your work, until your mind is a little more on the task at hand? It is rather a deadly business after all and—” Tom looked hopeful she’d agree.
“The senior citizen’s dance.” Ida Mae nodded. She poured the hot water into her cup, then stared at the clear water.
Tom smiled at her, reached into the cupboard and pulled down the jar of instant coffee. “Yes, tomorrow night. Avery and Louise will meet you there. The break from work will be good for you.”
Okay, so it was once a week. She could manage a little social life too, but she wasn’t putting the vampire business on hold. She would just work around it.
Two weeks later, Tom and John hurried to her home again, and Ida Mae couldn’t understand what the concern was this time. When she greeted them at the door, Tom blurted out, “We’ve been concerned about you! We were ready to call the police. We haven’t been able to get in touch with you night or day!”
“Oh, Tom, I’ve met the most marvelous man.” Ida Mae took a deep breath and let it out. She had. He was wonderful! Not the same as her deceased husband, but he was different and just as much fun.
“But father,” John said.
Tom poked him in an attempt to shut him up, then said, “So you’ve met someone?”
“He’s been just marvelous.”
John frowned at her as he watched her take a seat on the sofa. “You said that already.”
“Yes, he’s taken me out to the orchestra, supper, and movies, you know—the ones I really like—historical, true-life adventures. I’ve been having a wonderful time.”
John frowned. “And you met him…”
“At the senior citizen’s dance. You were so right. I’ve just had such a terrific time. I’ve even decided to retire from the business for good.”
“But…” John said.
“That’s good,” Tom interrupted. “You need time to enjoy yourself, Mom. You’ve worked so hard all of these years. It’s time you enjoyed yourself.”
“Yes, you’re certainly right about that,” Ida Mae said as she swept a loose platinum-blonde curl off her cheek.
“He hasn’t been too forward with you?” John asked.
Tom twisted his mouth in annoyance as he shook his head at his brother.
“No, he’s been the perfect gentleman. After two weeks, he’s only given me a slight peck on the cheek. He hangs on my every word. I feel alive again since, well, since your father died.”
John’s frown deepened. “Don’t you think this is a little sudden like?”
“No,” Ida Mae said. “I always knew the time would come, that I would have to quit the job. It’s time for you young folks to continue without me.”
“But we have this one job that will take more than just Tom and I to do,” John said.
Tom shook his head. “Mom doesn’t need to help us with this bunch.”
“Where?” Ida Mae sat taller in her seat. She could quit right after that.
“At the old Victorian House on Main Street.”
“Ah, yes, that one,” Ida Mae said.
“She doesn’t need to help us,” Tom replied as his voice deepened with concern.
“She’s been there,” John said. “She knows where their lair is – – she can help us with just this one last job!”
And she agreed. The finale to a career of taking down the monsters in the city. She owed it to humankind. To the memory of Thomas. And to all of those who had trained her when she was much younger. She could do this. One last job.
Early the next morning, Ida Mae sped up the drive of the old mansion with her sons following her in John’s Suburban. After parking the cars, they grabbed their gear. Tom glanced over at his mother dressed in her trim pale blue jeans with a shirt decorated in sequined stars and moons. “You know, you didn’t really have to come, despite what John said.”
“It’s just one last job, Tom. I wouldn’t think of letting you do this one on your own.” She grabbed her garlic necklace, then pulled it over her head.
“Got everything?” John asked Tom.
Tom nodded, then took a deep breath. “Come on, then. Let’s get this over with.”
After the three stepped into the foyer, Ida Mae hurried to pull the curtains aside from one of the windows. John rolled his eyes and whispered, “We don’t have time for…”
“Now, John,” Ida Mae replied, “you know I always let the cheery light in while we work. I can’t stand to work in the dark gloom.”
She hurried over to two more windows and jerked the heavy velvet cloth aside, then rubbed her hands together to wipe off the dust. “Okay,” she said, “it’s down this way.” She pointed to an open doorway leading to the basement. Most vampires slept in beds in bedrooms, like normal people, but with heavy canopies around their beds. These vampires lived like some bizarre Gothic version of the vampires of old.
“Got the flashlights?” Tom asked John.
John fumbled around in one of the canvas bags, then pulled one out for each of them.
“That’s okay, dear,” his mother said. “I’d like to keep my hands free, if you don’t mind.”
Tom led the three down the stairs and as the steps creaked with their weight, the muscles in his neck tightened. The cool dank musty smell permeated the dark room which was pierced only by the beam of the two flashlights. Ida Mae looked for any sign of a window in the basement while her sons examined the crates as they looked for the coffins they assumed would be there.
“Here,” Ida Mae whispered as she found a large paint-blackened window.
“We need to find the coffins, Mom,” John whispered, pushing a crate aside.
“Oh!” Ida Mae shouted as she climbed onto a chair to reach the window, but the rotting wicker had suddenly given way under her weight.
Ida Mae fell to the floor. Tom hurried over to help his mother stand, while the creaking of rusted hinges prickled the air. Everyone stood still.
“Good evening,” a voice in the dark said, and as Tom and John shined their lights on the face still half-covered in the shadows of the crates, Ida Mae exclaimed, “Kenneth!”
Her sons turned to look at their mother and John said, “Don’t tell me you know this man.”
“Why yes, he does a great Jitterbug.”
“I take it these are your sons, renown in these parts for their trade, Ida Mae,” Kenneth said as he watched Tom fumble around in his bag for a wooden stake.
John kept his eye on the elderly man as he said, “What’s wrong, Tom?”
“I don’t seem to have any stakes in here. Not a one.”
“Oh,” Ida Mae said in a muffled way, as she clasped her hand to her mouth.
“Don’t tell me…”
“I was cleaning the bag. Maybe I forgot to put them back in.”
Kenneth reached down for a bag resting near one of the crates as John backed up toward his mother to protect her from the menace before them. Kenneth pulled a perfectly-carved wooden stake from the bag. John pulled out a cross.
Kenneth laughed. “That’ll keep them at bay, but you’ll need something more to put the poor souls to rest.”
“You’re not one of them?” Tom asked.
“Hardly. I’m rather surprised to see Ida Mae here, though.”
She smiled back at the gentleman. “We never discussed our occupations with each other.”
“No,” he said. “Whenever I mention the type of work I do, the lady takes a powder. I’ve found it’s best not to mention it at all.”
The air suddenly filled with a foul-smelling substance and the experienced hunters knew that their prey would soon be the hunters if they didn’t act quickly. “Have you any more stakes?” Tom asked as he rushed over to Kenneth’s side.
“Grab as many as you need.” Kenneth readied a bow and a wooden stake.
“It’s not yet dark out,” Ida Mae said under her breath as the men prepared to face the unseen threat that awakened nearby. She reached for a crate and finding it was stationary, she climbed on top. The window lock was just beyond her finger tips. She turned to see Kenneth release the stake as he let go of the string of his bow and a blood-curdling cry rang out, then echoed off of the walls. Ida Mae jumped off the crate and grabbed one of the flashlights laying on the floor nearby. After climbing on top of the crate again, she shoved at the lock with the edge of the flashlight, but the rusted metal wouldn’t budge at all.
Kenneth knocked another stake as Tom wrestled one of the creatures to the floor while his brother readied a hammer to the stake. As Kenneth let the second stake fly, another creature screamed out in pain and dissolved into ashes.
“Ida Mae!” Kenneth shouted. “There are too many. Get out of here!”
Ida Mae watched as her boys finished the job they’d begun, then grappled with another.
“I can’t leave!” she exclaimed. “If this is to be my last job, then so be it!” Then with as much effort as she could muster, she swung the flashlight against the window pane. A slight crack appeared in the window as two more creatures screamed in agony. She struck the window again. The crack spread across the pane like a fissure creeping across the frozen ice. She felt a hand on her leg, threatening to pull her from her make-shift stool, Ida Mae struck the glass again. The sun spilled into the room all at once.
The room was filled with shrieks and then only piles of dust remained. “I don’t like working in the dark,” Ida Mae said as John helped her down from the crate. “It’s much more cheerful to work in the light.”
Kenneth rushed over to Ida Mae and gave her a warm embrace. “You’re my kind of gal, Ida Mae.”
“This was your last job,” Tom said as he gathered up his equipment.
“I don’t know,” Ida Mae said as she smiled back at Kenneth. “I believe I’ve had rather a change of plans.”
Huntress for Hire
By Terry Spear
He’s a hunter turned vampire, she’s a huntress of vampires—he’s needs her cooperation to free his family; she’s trained to kill his kind. Rebel vampire huntress Rachael Bremerton wants revenge against Piaras, one of the most ruthless vampires in Dallas, for the murder of her parents. But when she’s lured by another vampire, Adonis, into the darkness—the same darkness she’s feared since she was a child—she’s torn between her huntress sensibilities and some strange desire to be with the creature she’s meant to despise and destroy. Adonis, a hunter turned vampire, has been ordered by Piaras to bring Rachel to him untouched. In return, Piaras will release Adonis’s family unharmed. But when Adonis first sees Rachael, his hunter desire to have a huntress mate kicks in, or is it the dark heart of the vampire that makes him crave her so? Turning Rachel over to Piaras becomes less of an option. But can he find a way to free his family, claim Rachael for his own, and keep her family from discovering he is a hunter turned vampire—a creature they will all feel obligated to hunt down and kill?
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy is reality.”
Connect with Terry Spear:
Wilde & Woolly Bears http://www.celticbears.com