This is a collection of short stories I've written at various times, some for class and some just because I can. Each "chapter" is a story.
November 2014 for Introduction to Fiction class
The old gate swung inward and Antone de Bassano winced at the grating sound. Little flakes of rust settled to the weed-less sidewalk. He wrinkled his nose in distaste. Is it so much trouble to oil the gate? The yard was pristine but beyond the rusting iron fence the dense forest grew unkempt. Antone walked soundlessly up the path to the red trimmed door.
He knocked and the loud rap echoed through the house. Crossing his arms, Antone waited while glaring at the bronzed, water crane door knocker. The sky held the last bits of light being chased away by dark blue, which would soon turn into a transparent window to the stars. While vampires didn't burst into flames, the sun severely weakened them.
Finally footsteps paced to the door. His senses jumped and muscles coiled like snakes. Took you long enough, he thought. What good were human servants if they couldn't be quick about answering doors. He needed to be invited in so he could wake up Lynn. However, the slim figure that opened the door had dull red eyes rather than natural hues. She wore modern sleep wear and three small black ink letters were tattooed just behind her right temple, offsetting her pale pallor. Her head was completely bald. Antone had expected her human servant but here she was, his little creation who'd been a thorn in his side since the day he dragged her into existence.
Antone had been feeling a little queasy ever since the bombs had dropped. He knew the radiation wouldn't affect him permanently. Though, he wondered if it made him feel off, what would the humans be suffering? It tainted their blood, giving a bitter aftertaste. However, he'd be grateful he happened to be in Japan that year.
A mental tug pulled on Antone. While some vampires had extreme speed or even elemental powers, he possessed the ability of sensing special abilities humans would have upon being turned. He was passing a house not too far from Hiroshima. His eyes widened. It couldn't be.... He practically flew over to a window. Inside was a Caucasian woman with a nearly bald head clutching tight to a Japanese man who was equally balding. They wore the hopeless expressions everyone here now wore. Antone was far from hopeless. He'd found a Seer.
Antone raised his eyebrows and his thick Italian accent rang in the dead air, "You're up quite early. I'd hoped to command Michael to invite me in unhindered."
She kept a disinterested stare. "I hoped I'd never have to see your face again."
Another set of footsteps approached the door, these louder and with a heavier tread. A tall, caramel-skinned man stood behind Lynn with a scowl. His shoulders were set stiff and ridged. He bet Michael wanted nothing more than to stake him on the doorstep. He grinned a toothy smile at Lynn's living blood bag.
"Easy, Michael," Lynn murmured, not taking her eyes off Antone, "Invite him in."
Michael scowled but said, "You may come in."
"Thank-you," Antone replied, stepping across the threshold that no longer barred him from crossing. He gave a tip of the hat gesture even though he wore no head covering.
Lynn simply turned and padded on bare feet across the plush rug covering the foyer. Michael remained, failing to mask his sour expression at the appearance of the elder vampire.
"Your coat?" Michael said.
Antone shrugged off his outer coat. It's style was of the late nineteenth century Europe and most assumed was a steampunk fashion statement. He revealed a modern-looking black vest over a grey pinstriped shirt, which he rolled up to his elbows, and sleek black slacks. It suited his tall lanky build.
"Go start packing, boy. She's coming back to California." Antone said, tossing the coat on the human servant. Unfortunately, Lynn coming meant Michael was too but he'd figured it was one less thing Lynn would glare at him about durring the five hour flight between Atlanta and Los Angles.
Michael hung his coat over several dusty ones on the rack. "We're not going anywhere."
"Does the servant speak for the master now?" Antone 'tsked' in dismissal and followed after Lynn. He wasn't dealing with Michael's backtalk. There was a plane they needed to catch if he was going to keep his skin.
A month ago he'd lost a bet with Prince Cort Sapphiri. The price had been his life but Cort had granted him mercy in exchange for fetching Lynn. Cort was in the middle of a full scale rebellion against the other vampire royalty and needed a Seer like Lynn to predict the future. The Prince's enemy was Roxanne, one of the few other Seers in the world. Lynn was just going to have to suck it up and return to the real world.
Antone followed down the hall and came to a set of stairs. They were adorned with little white Christmas lights that looked like sick fireflies. He caught a glimpse of Lynn disappearing at the third floor. When he got to the top, another hall greeted him, gaudy with multicolored picture frames covering every inch of space. At the end were two doors, one was open and Antone briefly glimpsed a large four poster bed with thick curtains to ward off sunlight. However, his attention focused on the closed door. He smelled Lynn's trail going through it.
A rainbow of color greeted him when he flicked the door open and stepped inside. He seemed to be in a massive closet of sorts. Racks of everything from dapper dresses, to fifties sweaters, to flared bell bottom jeans, to modern one-piece jumpers, lined one wall. Piles of accessories littered the floor. A green screen with a fat camera defined the other side of the room. However, on the far wall were rows upon rows of shelves where hundreds of lifeless, dead eyes stared back. The eyes peered from fancy wig heads; on each sat a different wig ranging from red to purple to more natural tones. There were short wigs, long wigs, wigs with multiple colors and wigs with no possible use but to look weird on the stand. Antone didn't speak for a moment, taking in the wall that held thousands of dollars worth of artificial hair.
Lynn stood before the wall, holding a stack of photos. Michael appeared behind him and darted around to Lynn's side. She handed him one of the photos. He went a few paces down, then reached up to a wig on the top shelves, hooking the picture on the little hook that jutted out beneath each wig.
Antone blinked in surprise, So this is what she does. Take pictures in wigs? How pathetic.
Lynn's disinterested voice rang quietly through the room, "You haven't eaten yet." She pointed at a table without turning from her task.
Antone looked to a small coffee table. He smelled sourdough bread. A half empty bowl of soup made the place reek of tomatoes. Of course the human couldn't eat in the kitchen and not stink up the rest of the house. He zeroed in on a whiff of rich B negative. Lynn had poured a cup of blood from a green oriental tea pot into matching green cups. The Japanese characters for luck and health were printed on the sides.
"If you saw me coming, then you know why I'm here."
"It will not change the inevitable outcome of you explaining it to me, because you think if I hear it out of your mouth I'll be utterly convinced," she replied without much inflection, handing Michael another photo. He went to hang it on the hook beneath a short, spiky red wig.
Antone refused to let a glimmer of irritation show. Lynn loved to use her roundabout logic to mess with him. He'd show he wasn't playing her game today. Calmly, he sat down in the chair beside the table. He wrapped his manicured hands around the cup before taking a long sip. He let himself enjoy the satisfying taste of liquid life. No doubt it was Michael's, drawn from his thick veins to a blood bag. Lynn had always been squeamish in eating like a normal person.
"Enough with your antics." He shot half the cup's contents down his throat and then set it down on the fake wooden table. "I owe Cort Sapphiri a debt–"
"It's not wise to gamble with a Vampire Prince," she interjected, handing Michael another picture. There were still a good fifty in the stack.
He continued like she hadn't interrupted, "– and he needs a Seer to counteract Roxanne. You are a Seer and therefore you're coming with me."
"I am not. If you make me go, I will screw you over again, but unlike last time, there will be a bloodthirsty, plotting prince that will stake you on the spot," she replied.
Antone glared at her turned back. She was right and he loathed her for it. Every time he'd ever tried to command her to do things, she'd found a way around it with her sight. The last time had been in San Francisco and he'd been caught in a fire, barely escaping with his life. If you didn't have that sight, I'd have killed you a long time ago, he thought and almost said it aloud.
"Also, saying you will unbind me to gain favor, Master, is useless as well. Then you can't command me anymore. A lovely paradoxal conundrum."
"Whoever said I was offering to release you? You'll try and kill me."
"I did, by planting the idea just now. You will consider it a solution to your problem. You need me. Cort will kill you if you return without me, and you will come to the conclusion that the only way to gain my cooperation is by unbinding me."
"What if I held your grandchildren in danger?" Antone said, putting his cup down and standing. He did know the one thing that could cause her pain. She'd pathetically tracked down her kids from her human life and watched over them from afar. Now her grandchildren lived just outside Atlanta and she'd followed them like some nostalgic puppy. He moved so quickly Michael would have seen only a blur, looming over her with narrowed his eyes.
"Your blatant attempts to seem disinterested are starting to grate on me, Lynn. I may not be able to thwart your scheming at large but remember, I can cause hell. I'm being nice and asking you politely."
She frowned, but not at him. Her next picture was blurry. "Michael, we need to reprint this one."
"Drop them on the floor," Antone's voice had taken on a steel ring; no negotiations left in his hard red eyes.
Lynn's hands shook, a dynamic expression finally appearing on her face. She couldn't hold onto the photographs though and they fluttered to the ground, the pictures scattering.
"Master!" Michael gasped, surprised that his own hand had made him release the picture he was about to file.
Antone caught on to it. "Don't tell me you go that easy on him, Lynn. He looks like he's never felt a direct order before."
Lynn ignored him and instead spoke to Michael, "Take care of everything exactly how I told you." She stood still, almost motionless, like she was watching the world spin around her.
Antone's eyes narrowed on Lynn and he stepped in her line of sight. "I don't know if you told me to release you because you hoped I would or that I wouldn't."
A small smirk graced Lynn's face. Antone's mouth twisted into a snarl, the white daggers of his pointed teeth just peeking out. This corner she'd put him in was exactly the reason he couldn't fully control her. Her future sight gave her a fine edge to manipulate.
Their eyes bored into each other for a moment, neither of the vampires moving an inch. Antone hadn't noticed before but there were slight puffy bags under her eyes, like she hadn't slept in several days or eaten much either. What was she playing at? They faced off, both vampires equally threatening in their own way; Antone raw power while Lynn cold and calculative.
"Fine," Antone put his wrist to his mouth, violently slashing it open so a well of blood dripped down and stained the fine Arabic carpet. He was careful not to get any on his clothes and forced it against Lynn's mouth. She seemed un-phased and let her maker's blood seep into her mouth, wetting her fangs and coating her throat.
"No!" Michael couldn't stop his reaction though his legs jerked like he wanted to intervene. His feet were rooted to the ground. Antone almost stopped, a brief wondering why he'd want his mistress to remain bound to him. However it was too late to stop now.
"I release you, Lynn Anzai, as your maker I release you," Antone spit out, jerking his wrist away.
Lynn didn't move for a moment, swallowing and pressing her lips together solemnly. Michael slumped, the energy that had fired him a moment ago fleeting away. Suddenly Lynn jerked, clutching the side of her head just behind her right temple over the tattoo. It's black lines spider webbed across Lynn's skin, turning it dead, grey, and lifeless.
She smiled slowly at Antone. "You lose," she said, voice hoarse and thick. The lines spread out rapidly, forcing her to her knees as her body desiccated. She was just a thick pile of ashes on the floor a moment later.
Antone clenched his fists, rage engulfing and turning his vision hazy. His hands were around Michael's neck in an instant, "What did she do?!" He was screwed, his leverage now a pile of dust.
Michael coughed, choking, "Witches' curse . . . she's always had it for when . . . you release her." He struggled, trying futilely to escape the enraged vampire.
Antone bored into the human's eyes. The last of the bond was fading in Michael but he was able to grasp a tendril. The memory of Lynn explaining she would die today because of the curse she'd paid a witch to place on her decades ago, wanting to make sure she'd spite him till the end.
"So you knew," Antone said and with that twitched his wrist, snapping Michael's neck. His spinal cord produced a deep crack and Antone let the body flop.
While Antone didn't subscribe to the idea of ghosts, right now he hoped they were real. Going back to kick the pile of dust, he snarled. "If you're watching from the other side, I'll make sure you regret doing that."
He paced over to the table, picking up the cup and drinking down the last of the blood, before pouring himself another cup from the warm pot. Tomorrow night when he didn't return with Lynn a bounty would go on his head. He needed his energy. However, upon lifting the pot a square slip of paper fell landing on the table. It showed Lynn's scrawling handwriting.
October 2014 for Intro to Fiction class
Queiin draped her formal outer coat over the back of a chair and tossed a rectangle clutch purse on the blue silk bedspread. Her open backed dress exposed her pale albino skin to goose bumps. She went to grab the crystal rum container off of the mini-bar kept stocked in their bedroom. She'd kicked off her red pumps down the hall. A moment later Esset entered the room, her heels dangling precariously of his fingers. He tossed the red shoes haphazardly towards the grand closet big enough to house both of their extensive wardrobes. She was defiantly a stress drinker; half the glass of auburn rum had disappeared already. She flicked her white hair out of her eyes and held several fingers to her temple.
"I’m serious Esset, I’m not going to another party until I can walk around without hearing ‘whore’ whispered behind my back,” she said.
"I didn’t hear anything. You're overreacting.”
She gave him a look. "Of course not. Can’t let the CEO hear. Like pretending a King’s mistress isn’t a scandal,” she said and swallowed more rum.
The comment made Esset's jaw clench and he leveled his eyes at her. His blue gaze he got from his Italian father but the deep skin tone from his Kenyan mother. The contrast usually attracted Queiin but right now it didn’t phase her irritation. He walked into the closet, undoing the black tuxedo bow at his neck.
"Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about,” she said.
"Like hell," she outright glared at him, contorting her sharp angled face.
His hands stopped halfway down the buttons on his white shirt. Letting out a calming breath, he strode out of the closet. She wasn't going to let this slide. Usually after a stressful business party they'd already be lounging between the sheets or still stumbling through the door and trying to get at her dress’ zipper.
"People talk. It's none of their damn business," he said.
"The tabloids disagree." She set her glass down with a loud clink.
She thought back to when their relationship had been so much simpler. He'd been one of her many escort clients and after a few nights he'd come to her with an offer. A comfortable living in exchange for her services full time. She was hesitant at first. But his extravagant life in exchange for companionship, arm candy, and sex was better than what a whore like her could hope for, even a high class one. Over the five years since, they'd fallen into what he probably considered love. She cared for him certainly, but she felt the strain in their differing levels of affection. Especially now when the gossip tabloids had dragged their past into the limelight.
"You've never cared about what people say before," he replied.
"Ugh!" racking her hands over her face she strode to the edge of the bed and sank down.
While the whispered comments behind her back stung, she couldn't help but think back to several months ago. They'd met with Esset's lawyer that had drafted their original contract for their unique arrangement. She'd prayed the contract might somehow prohibit Esset's proposed alteration. However, it was never drafted with the forethought they’d actually come to care for each other. The lawyer assured legal legitimacy wasn't an issue in passing down Esset's family business. Queiin had stopped taking birth control soon after. However, after the gossip and slander these past two weeks, guilt wracked her at the idea of making a child grow up being called bastard behind their back.
Esset's shoulders dropped and he looked to her expectantly. After several moments, he slowly approached and kneeled before her, caressing her arms. She didn't move, hunched over and refusing to look up.
"Queiin, what's really wrong? Is it because you don’t want to try? I know it's bad timing but," he paused, still trying to catch her eye, "The way I see it, having a child together would show them they're wrong. We're not the same people who signed that contract."
She didn't really hear him. In those few moments sitting there, painful and intense cramps hit her lower abdomen. Bolting up she rushed for the bathroom, slamming the door and barely retaining the forethought to click the lock. She hadn't expected getting her monthly cycle back would be this bad. Urgent knocks rattled the door, followed by the doorknob jiggling. A line of blood streaked down her inner thigh.
She sank to the floor and clutched her stomach. After so many years of being on birth control she'd almost forgotten the awful monthly cramps. She also didn't remember this much blood. Cringing at her sodden dress, she hastily pulled herself up and stumbled to the tub. At least that is what she aimed for. Another intense wave of pain shot through her. She didn't reach the bathtub; she doubled over with more blood dripping to the tile.
"Love, please, let's just talk this out," Esset said from behind the locked door.
She groaned and pressed her face to the cool tile. "No.... I'm sick, period cramps.”
He didn't say anything, never having dealt with this with her before. His voice was hesitant when he spoke again. "Please let me in. I'll draw you a bath."
"No... Just get me Tylenol and a heat pad."
"Where is it?"
She groaned, "You'll have to go to the store." She hated to make him go out this late but the cramps were getting worse by the second.
"The staff has gone home already... will you be—" He didn't want to leave her alone without even a maid in the penthouse.
She cut him off, "Just go, please."
"I'll be back as soon as I can." She heard his quick movements in the bedroom before he practically ran out the door.
She hoped she could hold out the forty five minutes or so it would take him to get there and back. Managing to slowly get herself into the tub, she cringed at the mess she left behind. Another painful spasm wracked her and her cry echoed in the hollow bathroom. The cramps were much worse than she remembered. Reaching shakily across the tub, she turned on the water; shivering as it blasted cold before getting warm.
She stripped off her dress but after a minute of the tub filling, she flicked the drain open. The water had turned red and thick with clots of blood. Grabbing a towel off the rack, she pulled it over herself; the white fabric stained soon with red as well. Her heart thudded . . . this couldn't be normal period bleeding. She sat stark still, the pain slowly fading to the background and being replaced by shock. She couldn't have been pregnant . . . but then again, she could. However her shock soon morphed into shame. It wasn't menstrual blood but it brought the same calm and reassurance a teenage girl felt in seeing it after unprotected sex. She couldn't deny the blossom of relief in her chest, and then feeling guilty at the same time.
Queiin still huddled in the tub by the time a key rattled in the door. The pain had subsided a bit and she just felt numb. The off white tile between the door and the tub looked like a Halloween blood prank.
"I'm coming in, love." Esset said and entered. However his next words hung off his open mouth. With a drug store bag in one hand, a heat pad in the other, Esset took in the scene. He was male but wasn't naive of a what a normal female cycle entailed. The sight before him was anything but the norm.
Queiin's white hair tangled messily around her pale blue eyes."Sorry to make you go out for nothing,” she said, looking to the items he brought then quickly away.
Esset couldn't stomach the sight. He made it to the edge of the bed, the store bag still clutched in his hand. The image carved in his brain and the thought of what could have been their first child drove despair into his heart.
She didn’t call after him. How could she when she didn't share in his sorrow.