My Life In Darkness, part 32 (fiction)

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previous episode

 

My Life In Darkness

 

32. The Tall Man

 

A few days had passed. I was glad to be back at work. For now I had managed to persuade Astrid to allow me to continue working at the bookstore. The recent abduction gave her further ammunition against me having a job there, but I had convinced her I would be happier still having employment.ย  It galled me that it seemed I needed her permission to work, but at least Astrid’s attention was diverted for the moment, which is probably why she let the issue go so easily. The last few days she was focused on searching for the identities of the people who had abducted me. The Camaro that had been sitting in the driveway for a couple of days had suddenly disappeared, but Astrid wouldn’t reveal to me where it went. I shuddered to think what would happen to the abductors if Astrid did get her hands on them. I imagined they might spend some time down in the cellar until she was finished with them. Still, I now always kept an eye out for any suspicious activity around me when I was away from the house.

The first few days I came back I noticed there was a person browsing our stock that I hadn’t seen before. He was very tall and thin. His hair was grey and he also had a trimmed beard. He looked to be in his sixties or seventies. He was also always dressed in an impeccably smart suit that looked expensive, at least to my eyes. Every day he would come in and look around for a few minutes and then leave. I noticed each time he was slyly scoping me out. Then one day he picked up a book from out of the horror section and strode purposefully to the counter. He placed the book on the counter before me. It was on vampires. I looked up at him quizzically. He gave me a thin smile.

“An amusing book. Of course it’s rather incorrect about vampires, from what I know, and from what you would know as well I imagine.” He said to me. His voice was very deep and there was an unmistakable English accent.

“I’m sorry?” I replied, feigning ignorance. Who the hell was he?

“Come now. Let’s not pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.” He stated. I frowned at him.

“And you are?” I asked him.

“My name is Maximilian.” He said holding out a rather large but slightly wrinkled hand at me. I shook it uncertainly. It was warm, so I guessed he wasn’t a vampire.

“And I’m Melissa.” I replied, not sure why I was giving him my name.

“Yes I know.”

“Do we know each other or have a mutual friend?” I asked him.

“Not really. I wanted to ask you out for lunch.” He told me.

“I’m sorry but I don’t fraternise with customers.” I replied. He raised his eyebrows at me.

“Okay so I’ll just stand here and let your boss overhear specific details of your life, such as your socialising with known vampires, which includes having sexual relations with them.” He said with a look of distaste.

“Okay! I’m taking a lunch break in an hour. How about we meet in the cafe that’s in the next block?” I replied feeling rather flustered and wanting to get rid of him quickly lest Helen overhear what he was saying. He smiled. It was a grim smile.

“That would be most acceptable.” He answered. With that he turned around and left the store, leaving the book on vampires lying on the counter.

By the time my lunch break came I was close to having a panic attack. I wandered down the road with my heart beating wildly. Who was this man who seemed to know more details about my life than he should? When I got to the cafe he was sitting at a table in the courtyard waiting for me. It was the same table that Astrid and I had shared when we first met. I sat down on the other side.

“I’ve ordered some coffee for you. I hope you don’t mind.” He told me. He pulled out a box of cigars and offered me one.

“No thanks, I don’t smoke.” He took one out for himself and then closed the box with a loud snap. He then lit the cigar and the thick smoke began to waft over me. “So why do you want to talk with me?”

“To help you.” He stated.

“To help me with what?” I asked confused. I hadn’t asked for help.

“To help you with your vampire problem.”

“Vampire problem?” I repeated. He sat back in his chair.

“You are under the thrall of a vampire. I can help you with that.” He revealed.

“And how precisely can you help?”

“I’m a hunter. Getting rid of vampires is my specialty. But I will need your assistance.” I let his words sink in.

“You don’t know anything about me.” I countered. He stared at me and then pulled out a small notebook.

“Your name is Melissa Jefferies. You are 28 years old. You have no siblings and both your parents are dead. You were born in this town. You went to the University of New Kingsport and majored in English Literature. While there you became involved in a lesbian relationship with a Nicola Evans. The relationship ended a couple of years ago. On a side note, Nicola jumped off a bridge six months ago. Around a year ago you came back to live here. You lived with your father until he died from a heart attack, also around six months ago. You then leased an apartment in your family’s old homestead and lived there until quite recently, though you still lease it. Just over a month ago you entered into another lesbian relationship, this time with Astrid Eriksdottir, a known vampire. From the mark on the right side of your neck it suggests you have been bound to her. The scarring on the right side also suggests that Astrid feeds on you quite regularly. I suspect you allow her to. I can go into further detail if you wish.” He told me. He closed the notebook and put it away in a jacket pocket.

“So you’ve done your homework.” I said looking away.

“Yes I always research carefully.” Maximilian replied.

“How did you know Astrid was here?” I asked him.

“I didn’t. I came to Lawrence to investigate reports of exsanguinated bodies found in the towns graveyard, which suggested vampirism to me. And then I saw her: Astrid Eriksdottir, a foe I have hunted for most of my life. When I found she was living here I knew this would be a rare opportunity to finally rid the world of her. You being connected to her gives me a way in, if you are willing assist me.”

“Why would I help you? Astrid says you hunters are hypocrites. You align yourself with dark forces that are in opposition to the Council and want to destroy it.” He raised his eyebrows at me.

“While it is true I don’t have anything to do with the Council, I know of no other force that opposes it. There are individual entities that do not adhere to the Council’s laws, but they are few in number and are certainly not connected with each other, at least not in a way that I know of. The Council itself is a corrupt organisation that harbours vampires, dark wizards, shapeshifters, and other undesirables. It would be nice to get rid of it, but that’s beyond my abilities. All I can do is focus on individuals the world would be better rid of, such as Astrid Eriksdottir.”

“What’s so bad about her?” I asked, wanting to know more.

“Well aside from being a vampire, which should be reason enough, she’s a butcher. She had gone through the last millennia killing countless numbers of people.” He revealed. “These killings were often sanctioned by the Council.”

“You’re referring to her work as an Inquisitor?” I asked as he blew more cigar smoke over me.

“Yes.” He replied. “The Council uses her to get rid of their enemies, or people they just don’t want around.”

“And she’s a lesbian.” I added. Maximilian smiled grimly again.

“Yes, while I don’t approve of your lifestyle choices, it’s not reason enough to kill someone.” He stated. At the mention ofย  “lifestyle choices” I rolled my eyes. Like I really chose to be attracted to other girls…

“Good to know!” I replied sarcastically.

“So my question to you is: are you willing to aid me in destroying Astrid Eriksdottir?” He asked me, ignoring my tone.

“You do realise you’re talking about destroying my girlfriend?” I put to him.

“Yes a girlfriend who feeds on you and controls you. Who gets rid of your friends and family so you are totally isolated and dependent on her. Are you really content with that?” He asked me pointedly. I looked away again.

“Maybe I’ll think about it.” I conceded.

“Good. That’s all I can ask you to do. Think about it and then we’ll meet here again in two days time.” Maximilian said. I finished my coffee and then stood up.

“I have to get back to work.” I told him.

“Remember if Astrid dies, then you will no longer be bound to her. You will be free again to do as you wish.” I nodded at his words in acknowledgement and then left.

Though my break wasn’t yet over, I walked back to work knowing I had a lot of thinking to do.

 

Next episode: Learning Magic

 

 

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ยฉ2019 Joanne Fisher

 

 

 

 

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I Love Trains

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Living in Christchurch there isn’t the greatest option for train journeys. There’s the TranzAlpine, which leaves from Christchurch and travels to the West Coast going through Arthur’s Pass. I’ve yet to travel on that one.

The only other train that leaves here is the Coastal Pacific which I traveled on in early 2016 on my way to Wellington. Later that year there was an earthquake in Kaikoura which knocked out the railway line there for some time. The Coastal Pacific travels from Christchurch to Picton, where the Interislander ferry leaves to Wellington. On the way is some very scenic mountainous country and coastline which includes seal colonies.

If given the option, I would prefer to travel by train rather than bus or aeroplane when possible. If I ever get overseas I would love to travel on some of the train journeys I’ve read about. Something to hope for in the future.

 

Word count: 150

 

This was written with the photo prompt provided by Crimson’s Creative Challenge #44.

 

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ยฉ2019 Joanne Fisher

You’ve Really Got To Know Where Your Towel Is – Terrible Poetry Competition

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You’ve Really Got To Know Where Your Towel Is

 

 

I use my towel for everything –

I dry myself with it, or wipe dirt off

sometimes I wear it as a short dress,

an improvised hat, or use it as a blanket

I even like to take it to sports events and

twirl it above my head in excitement

people say my towel is dirty, that it smells

but you don’t wash towels

do you?

when it gets damp I dry it outside

and then I wrap it around my head

Actually, they’re right

it does stink.

 

Joanne Fisher

 

This was written for Chelsea Owens’s Weekly Terrible Poetry Competition #42.

 

 

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ยฉ2019 Joanne Fisher

 

 

 

 

True Grit (flash fiction)

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True Grit

 

I was at the excavation site. I walked into William’s tent. He was the Chief Geologist of the site. Inside there were various rock samples of different sorts. We were digging into some strata we had never encountered before.

William sat on the chair by his desk. In the palm of his hand there seemed to be some coarse sand he was peering at intently.

“What do you have there?” I asked.

“It’s the grit that all other grit in the world originally comes from.” He informed me.

“You mean it’s the True Grit?”

“Yes.” He replied quite seriously.

 

Joanne Fisher

 

Word count: 99

 

This was written with the prompt true grit provided by the Carrot Ranch September 5 Flash Fiction Challenge.

 

My last Carrot Ranch prompt response didn’t get seen by that many: The Safebreaker’s Daughter.

 

I guess I was in a whimsical frame of mind this morning. I wrote this story and a humourous poem while I was still getting up.

 

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ยฉ2019 Joanne Fisher

 

 

Slasher (flash fiction)

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Slasher

 

I smacked him in the head with the baseball bat I had found. He fell over dropping the axe he held. His mask, however, stayed in place. I so wanted to lift that mask off to see who it was, but I was also terrified to get nearer to him. So I ran to the fence instead and started to climb up. I had to get out of here.

That thing had already killed many of my friends, and I wondered whether I was the heroine who defeats him in the end and lives to fight another day, or was I the one who almost escapes but doesn’t? It was raining heavily now with occasional bursts of lightning and thunder in the distance. My hands and feet slipped on the chain link fence as I tried to climb up and then suddenly I felt his vice-like ice cold hands on my right leg as he began to pull me back down…

 

Joanne Fisher

 

I used to like watching slasher films, but if you’ve watched enough of them they become quite formulaic after a while…

 

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ยฉ2019 Joanne Fisher

 

 

My Life In Darkness, part 31 (fiction)

1853

 

previous episode

 

My Life In Darkness

 

31. Explanations

 

Astrid’s words slowly filtered through. Our enemies were after me, not her. A plethora of questions suddenly swam through my brain. I was the target? Astrid had been trying to protect me from them all along? Then why did she hurt me? Who else knew about me? Had Astrid always known?

“So what do our enemies plan to do to me? Are they wanting to kill me?” I asked her.

“Possibly, though the Council is more concerned our enemies will try to use you to destroy the Council.” Astrid answered.

“Do they know how to find me?”

“No. They are aware you exist, and when you were born, but they don’t know your name or where you live, but it only takes one of them to find that out, and then they will all know who you are.” Astrid stated.

“How did you find me?” I asked.

“It’s hard to explain. It came to me in a vision that you were in New Kingsport. So I traveled there and eventually found you.”

“A vision?”

“Yes.” Astrid confirmed.

“Can you tell me more about that?” I asked.

“Not at this stage. I’ll tell you more about it some other time.” She answered. Another thought came to me.

“If I’m a sorceress, that makes me supernatural as well doesn’t it?”

“Yes it does.” Confirmed Astrid.

“Is it usual for a supernatural to be bound to another one?” I asked her.

“No.” Astrid admitted.

“Then why was I bound to you?”

“The judge who bound you to me was willing to overlook it. The Council decided that having you under my control was their top priority.” She informed me.

“So you think controlling me, and disciplining me as you have, is going to make me conducive to helping you or the Council?” I asked her pointedly. Astrid sighed. “Do you think I want to be on your side with the way you’ve treated me?”

“I was doing it to keep you safe.”

“So you keep saying.” I angrily shot back at her.

“I’m sorry. I was worried if I couldn’t keep control of you, then I might lose you, like the way I lost Ingirid.” She finally admitted.

“But maybe if you keep trying to control me the way you’re doing now, you might lose me as well?” I looked up at her. She slowly nodded.

She sighed and came up to me, took hold of my hands and then helped me to my feet. I looked around there was no other vehicle around except for the one that I had been abducted in. I had no idea how she had got here. We both wandered over to the car which was a burgundy coloured Camaro from the 1990s, I reckoned.

“I guess we will have to use this car to get us back.” Astrid said as she opened the door to the drivers seat.

“This was used by my abductors.” I told her opening the door on the other side.

“Don’t worry, I’ll find out who they were.” Astrid replied as she got in.

There didn’t seem to be any key for it. It wasn’t in the ignition, and it didn’t appear after rummaging around for it in the glove box or on the floor.

“I guess they must have taken it with them.” I said.

“No problem.” Astrid said as she began pulling wires from out under the steering column.

“You’re a car thief as well?” I asked sarcastically.

“When you’ve been around as long as I have you tend to pick up a variety of different skills.” She explained ignoring my sarcastic tone. Eventually she got the car running, and we slowly drove off. “We’re over a day away from home. You’ve already missed one day of work, but don’t worry, I rang Helen and told her you were sick.”

“Thanks.” I said as I looked out at the road ahead.

We drove on. I wasn’t sure where we were. My best guess was that we were to the south-east of Lawrence, but at least over a day’s journey away, as Astrid had said. I was very hungry and thirsty. The land around here was pretty flat and mostly looked to be farmland. Occasionally we passed cows grazing on pasture and rows of corn almost ready for harvesting. The first small town we got to, Astrid stopped at a burger bar and bought several cheeseburgers, chips, and giant container full of soft drink, while I used their facilities and cleaned myself up a little. When I got back in the car I gulped down the burgers and drink. Even Astrid was surprised how quickly I consumed it all.

“You want some more?” She asked in a surprised tone.

“Maybe some more to drink.” I replied.

She stopped the car again, but this time went into a grocery store and came back with several bottles of soft drink, as well chocolate bars, and potato chips.

“I thought I would get supplies for the rest of the journey.” She said.

“This has to be the weirdest road trip I’ve ever been on.” I told her. She gave a short laugh and put her right arm around me and softly kissed my cheek.

“I’m glad I found you. I was so worried I would find you dead, like how I found Ingirid.” She admitted.

“Well if Cass had got her way I would be.” I reminded her.

After getting more gas for the car, we drove off leaving the small town behind us. We drove for the rest of the day, only making the occasional toilet stop for me. I looked out at the landscape around us. We were now starting to encounter steep hills and woodland. The sky was getting dark.

Once it was completely dark we stopped at a diner at the next town we came to. It felt good to stretch my legs again. Even Astrid looked like she needed a break from driving. We walked into the diner and sat down at a table. We both looked at the menus.

“How are you holding up?” I asked Astrid.

“I could do with some blood.” She told me. “I left in a rush looking for you, I didn’t think about bringing any blood bags with me, and now I’m hungry.”

“You can feed on me when we get back in the car.” I offered, not wanting her to snack on any of the customers here.

“Thanks. I’m probably going to have to.”

“Maybe I could drive?” I suggested.

“Do you know how to drive a car?” She asked me with a frown.

“No, but how hard is it really?” I replied with a smile.

“Good to see you haven’t lost your sense of humour.” She stated as she waved at a waitress.

I ordered some pancakes as I had eaten enough burgers and chips for one day. We both drank plenty of coffee. When we got back in the car I offered Astrid my arm, but she went for my neck instead. I felt her fangs break the skin and then I heard her swallowing my blood. It still hurt, but as she always bit the same area maybe there was a lot of scar tissue or nerve damage around there now, as it no longer hurt as much as it used to.

After Astrid fed, we continued on. I was now drowsy from traveling all day and blood loss. I drifted off with my head resting on Astrid’s shoulder as she drove. Occasionally I felt her hand resting on my leg. It would have been early morning by the time we got back to Lawrence. I was half-asleep when we pulled up the driveway to Astrid’s house. She ended up picking me up out of the car and carrying me into the house and up the stairs to the bedroom. She dropped me onto the bed and then began stripping off my clothes until I was down to my underwear. After that she pulled the sheets and blanket over me and I drifted off again. A short time later I felt her getting into bed with me and we both slept with her arms tightly holding me.

When I woke up the next morning I was alone in the bed again. When I went down to the kitchen there was scrambled eggs and bacon waiting for me, as well as plenty of coffee. There was also a shot glass full of blood. Astrid sat there as though she had been waiting for me.

“Do I really have to drink your blood again?” I asked.

“Yes it will help you heal and recover from your ordeal.” She told me. I sat down at the table and began eating. I was still very hungry.

“How come you fed from my neck yesterday when I offered you my arm?”

“I prefer feeding from your neck. It feels more personal. I can feel your heart beating and hear the blood running in your body. When you’re a vampire and you feed on someone, you can feel a connection to them which is hard to explain to someone who isn’t one.” She explained. “I rang your work and said you won’t be in today. Maybe we could talk about your need to still work there?”

“My work is my last connection to the human world. I’d rather not lose it.” I told her.

“But it’s not safe.” She responded.

“What is safe?” I asked. “Many people would say living with a vampire who feeds on my blood isn’t safe.”

“But it is safe. I can protect you here. There is no danger of me killing you, despite what you think.”

“You just want to control me. You don’t want me to go anywhere. Your idea of keeping me safe is for me to stay locked in this house.” I argued.

“I don’t want to lose you like I lost Ingirid. If I keep you under my control then it’s less likely you will come to harm.”

“I can take care of myself.” I told her.

“Ingirid thought that and they still killed her.”

“That’s what this is all about isn’t it? You’re terrified of the same thing happening again. That’s why you’re so controlling.” I said. Astrid remained silent. “How come I never knew of my powers before?”

“Have you ever tried using them?” Astrid asked.

“No.” I admitted.

“Your powers have only manifested when you’re reacting to attacks against you. So it’s only when you’re in a highly stressful situation you’ve used them.”

“So how do I learn to use my powers then?” I asked.

“Practice. There’s a mage that lives near by. I could get them to talk to you. They can give you some advice if you want to learn.”

“That sounds great.” I said.

Maybe if I had use of my powers I could better control my situation, I thought.

 

 

Next episode: The Tall Man

 

Author’s note: It’s a bit longer this week. As the story is starting to wrap up, the weekly episodes might get a bit more lengthier from now on.

 

 

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ยฉ2019 Joanne Fisher

 

 

 

The Holiday Ends (flash fiction)

 

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The Holiday Ends

 

Jess and Cindy wandered around the museum. Cindy wasn’t that much interested in the history of boats or sailing, but Jess was enjoying it. They both thought they should visit the museum before they left, which had been touted as one of this seaside town’s major attractions.

Cindy had a heavy heart. Tomorrow they were heading back to the farm, and though she missed it, she had quite enjoyed the brief break from the routine of farm life. Though traipsing through a museum that held little interest for her was not her ideal form of leisure…

“What do you think of it babe?” Jess asked her.

“Interesting.” Cindy replied, trying to sound enthused. Jess laughed.

“I know you’re bored out of your skull here. Maybe we should go and do something you want to do next.” Jess suggested.

Cindy smiled. She thought of Jess and their hotel room.

 

Joanne Fisher

 

Word count: 147 + prompt

 

This was written with the prompt museum provided by Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #122.

 

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ยฉ2019 Joanne Fisher