Windsurfers

“Oh, that’s not good.”

            The insistent beeping didn’t stop. In fact, it increased its pace beeping like an annoying wake-up alarm. The view outside the view port remained a majestic view of the Earth floating serenely complete with fluffy white clouds. It was oblivious to the danger. Ryan Sharpton ruffled his dark hair and glanced down at the scanner. The asteroids were coming in hot. He may have been generous in saying it wasn’t good. This was fantastically, terrifically awful! The Earth was doomed in…

            “Four minutes,” Felicia shouted from the corridor, “what’s taking so long? I thought you said you could rig up a shield generator in your sleep?”

            “I can, I did!” Ryan waved his hands at the jerry-rigged shield generator. He’d even slapped an eco-friendly power core on to it. It was fantastic! Made from a hologram projector, a digital camera, a sat nav, and a wireless router. It would utilize the solar sails on the space ship and the hundreds of satellites orbiting the earth to create a temporary barrier.  Only it wasn’t working! The programming was perfect. He’s made it stupidly idiot proof. It was basically supped up Linux. It had started to boot then the power had cut out. If he didn’t fix it, North America was going to be one giant smoking crater. He ripped open the panel on the side of his lash-up and shoved his hand in up to his elbow. “Something must be loose or maybe too tight?” He jiggled a few wires. Lights flickered weakly on the panel before dying out again.

            “Ryan, the guards aren’t going to stay unconscious forever,” Felicia shouted. “Shit, three minutes! This is a helluva first date!”

            Letting out a shaky laugh, he resisted the urge to kick the entire setup. Felicia was so right. This was not exactly how he wanted to spend his weekend. He should have never taken Felicia to see that observatory in Mauna Kei, Hawaii. They could have gone windsurfing. She had even suggested it. Ryan was the moron who wanted to see the best view of space in town. They could have been sipping mai tai’s after an evening of close, very close sailing.

            The evening had started off pleasantly enough with a luau in a lovely pink hotel near the white sandy beach. Ryan had just finished up a conference for the Amateur Astronomical Society of North America. He was a founding member and the only one with a degree in astrophysics and a PhD in physics. He had cornered a few professionals into doing a panel since the group was mostly day players and older retirees, hence the conference being set in Hawaii this year. The Luau sported the traditional roasted pig in the center of some lovely fruit and poi. Felicia had been tweaking pieces of pork and drinking. She was slim and petite, dressed in a lovely white sundress decorated in little planets. Blonde with dark roots and a generous mouth, she was gorgeous. Catching his eye, she had saluted him with her fruity drink in a traditional half coconut.

            “I don’t know you,” he had said brilliantly.

            “You don’t,” she agreed, giggling, “do you want to get to know me?”

            He wanted to face palm, grimacing at his awkwardness.

            “Yeah, think I might erm,” Ryan trailed off his face was 6000 degrees Kelvin.

            Luckily for Ryan, Felicia had been just the right amount of drunk to find his lack of cool amusing. She had suggested windsurfing. He had countered with the observatory.

            The low atmosphere shuttle bus had dropped them off at the base of the observatory. Giggling and drinking out of her hip flask, they had shared stories on the way to the top of the mountain. Felicia was an amateur astronomer and a professional astrologer.

            “I’m all about the stars, Ryan,” she teased and asked if he was a Leo. He was an Aries.

            Once inside, he had shown his credentials to a bored woman in a blue jumpsuit named Sandy. She’d waved them into the telescope room. “No idea why anyone wants to come in here tonight,” Sandy said as she unlocked the doors. “I’m not strictly supposed to let anyone in here. It’s against the rules. But I don’t think it will matter much after tonight.”

            “Are you quitting?” Felicia asked.

            Sandy shrugged. “Let’s just see how this night plays out.”

            “She seems…nice,” Ryan muttered as Felicia arched a brow at him.

            “I think this is the worst first date, I‘ve ever been on, or the greatest, I can’t tell yet,” Felicia said stepping into the room. Ryan was too busy trying to save their asses to classify the date. Felicia was hot and hadn’t run off when he was being him, so, meh. The impending doom wasn’t great. She continued, “We tied up the guards. I couldn’t explain the situation to them fast enough, so Sandy knocked them out with a moon rock! She smashed a case with a broom handle and brandished that rock like a well, like a rock. Sandy is brilliant! Three minutes, by the way.”

            “Windsurfing would have been wetter,” he remarked and sighed. He was destined to never say anything clever or cool in front of Felicia.

            “Yeah, it would have been,” she said, kneeling down next to the generator, her sundress torn at the edges. She winked at him. “Still…end of the world.”

            “Right.”

            They had spotted the space station first. The telescope was strong enough to see the astronauts inside. “We could wave,” Felicia said practically purring into his ear.

            “That station is full of soldiers, training for the next alien invasion,” Ryan remarked. “We wave and they see us, they might shoot. Let’s look at Mars instead, much safer.”

            “The Mars colony sees us and they might shoot. I heard they were thinking of breaking away from Earth. I had a cousin who went. She sends video messages twice a month. Everything looks a bit dusty.” Felicia nodded at the night sky. “I almost went but I wasn’t sure how to do astrology without being able to tell when Mars was in retrograde.”

            Ryan snorted. “Yeah, that might be a problem. Isn’t that how we know if everyone’s about to go crazy?” He asked calibrated the telescope by entering the parameters for the area of sky he wanted to scan. He’d done this once or twice back in New York at One World. It was easy if you were comfortable with star maps. “Next year, they’re supposed to be building a shield to protect the Earth from… uh oh.”

            Felicia glanced up at the viewscreen. “Is that what I think it is?”

            “If you think that’s a massive amount of asteroids that couldn’t possibly have gotten this close to Earth without us noticing, you are unfortunately, correct. This is so bad.” His fingers flew over the keys. “And weird.” Scan after scan appeared on the screen. “These are the scans of the same area for the last month. Notice anything?”

            “No asteroids.” Felicia frowned. “How’s that possible? And how has no one noticed?”

            “It’s insane. Our group should have noticed… Any of the amateur groups could have seen this if they had the right telescope. It’s not a hologram… For a month this place saw nothing. And on the viewscreen?”

            “Loads of deadly asteroids,” Felicia muttered. “Wow, did I pick the wrong guy to hit on at the luau. What do we do, call the government?”

            “You hit on me? No, I… Nah, there’s only about twenty minutes left before we all die, I wouldn’t want to wake them,” Ryan said. “Honestly, they’re not going to believe us if the other observatories are still showing clear skies. There’s not time. It’s gotta be us and we’ve gotta get up there.”

            He rushed out of the main room and over to the bored woman in the jumpsuit. “Do they have a transmit here in the observatory? I know they’re new tech but it’s an emergency. Look alive, Sandy. We’ve got a situation.”

            “Those things aren’t safe,” Sandy said, dismissing him. “Take a shuttle bus. They can get you anywhere you need to go on the island.”

            “We need to get to the space station,” Felicia told her, “Don’t think the shuttle bus can handle space travel. The new said they were much safer now. People are using them up to the moon base. Surely it can get us to the space station without pulping us?”

                      “We do have a transmat,” Sandy said, perking up, “I’m not supposed to use it. It turned one of the astronomers into soup last week. The odds are probably in our favor now.”

            “Yeah, I am feeling lucky,” Ryan said, giving Felicia a smile. “What do you think?”

            Felicia kissed him, shocking the hell out of him. Several seconds in, he caught on and pulled her up against him. They broke apart to breath. “What was that for?” he gasped.

            “For luck…” she said, as if he was an idiot. She patted his chest.

            “Two minutes,” Felicia hissed.

            “Not helping,” Ryan insisted as he pulled several strands of wires out and switched them around. “Negative to positive… not like hot wiring a car, or is it? Why won’t you turn on?”

            “Hey, Ryan, where would you be without us?  Sandy and I got you up here and held those idiots off. I’d say we are helping!”

            “Yes, sorry, stressed. Did Sandy get the canon working?”

            There was a rumble and the lights dimmed. Felicia made a face. “Yes?”

            “Good, great,” Ryan grumbled, throwing the cables down. “Those asteroids will bounce off my shield like super balls if only the stupid thing would TURN ON!”

            Felicia frowned. “Kick it.”

            “You can’t be serious,” he growled.

            “Just do it!”

            He kicked the generator. The lights came on green. “Oh shit, that worked! I can’t believe that worked!”

            The space station lights flickered as power was diverted from the solar sails to power the force field. One by one the satellites contributed to the shield. Ryan let out a bark of laughter as the blue haze of the force field snapped into place.

            “We did it!” Felicia jumped into his arms. He spun her around in a circle laughing.

            Sandy appeared in the corridor looking disappointed. “The guns stopped working! I was shooting things! It was awesome!”

            “Yeah, Felicia said kick the shield generator and that worked!” Ryan pulled Felicia against him.

            “It always works on TV,” Felicia said. “Besides, Aries love to kick things.”

            Sandy’s eyes lit up. “That’s amazing! This is the most exciting thing I’ve ever done, ever. Wow, I’m so glad I hacked all the observatories to keep them from noticing the asteroids. I mean, I was looking forward to a huge apocalypse but this is so much better!” Sandy put her hands on her hips and let out a loud whistle.

            Ryan just sputtered, “Wait, what?”

            “Oh, yeah, I was looking forward to watching the world burn. All this technology and life had gotten a bit boring. Thought I’d spice things up with a mass extinction,” Sandy said, eyes glittering. “Dibs on using the transmat first on the way down. I am shocked we didn’t turn inside out. Last guy who used it, Eric, he was a meat puddle…He twitched for a bit.” Sandy made a face. “I’m so glad I took that correspondence course on the dark web.” She walked off down the hall.

            Ryan stared after her. “I’m going let the guards loose on her if she doesn’t get pulped by the transmat. I can’t believe it. She’s got to be a genius.”

            “No, she’d have to be a super genius. There are four major space observatories and hundreds of smaller ones. The amount of planning and programming…” Felicia sounded impressed.

            “She’s insane!”

            “No, we are. This never happens when you’re windsurfing,” Felicia said.

            “Or seeing sea turtles in a submarine,” he offered.

            “Yep. Let’s untie the guards and see if they have a shuttle we can use. I don’t want to be soup.”

            “You’d make a lovely soup,” Ryan said and face palmed. “I have no idea why you hit on me.”

            “Let’s talk about it on our second date.”

            The end.

Notes: I wrote this for a client. It wasn’t what they were looking for at the time. I did love the story because it was fun. I expanded it a bit from the original and I hope you enjoy it.

Blue (Part 1)

It started out as a burning chunk exploded from a dying world. Not that it was the burning chunk exactly, it was inside the burning chunk, hiding, tucked in and sleeping. When the fire was quenched by the lack of oxygen in space, it evolved into a comet, it’s tail all full of dead dreams. Space was icy and inky and indifferent to it, buffeting it with other chunks of dead worlds and tossing it into gaseous belts before expelling it again. It was also indifferent to space, asleep and dreaming its way across the universe. Hundreds of years gone traveling.

Scientists took note of it in the night sky. They talked to one another about its approach. They calculated it’s impact and quickly became bored, labeling it NOT A THREAT in green. It would burn up in the atmosphere and meet its death as a harmless shooting star. The Astronomer named it Lucky Strike in a fit of humor and put a sticky note up to show where it would cross the night sky just in case anyone wanted to make a wish.

Penny, dressed in leggings and NASA tee, saw it. She was outside staring up, trying to remember a few more constellations. It was her first day in her VERY FIRST apartment and she could see the stars above the nearby woods twinkling. It was an improvement over her old view of skyscrapers and electrical lines. She was a bit lonely having never lived alone before and she wished on the bright shiny streak.

The atmosphere ate the dead planet, burned it screaming away into gasses, leaving the seed. Naked and light, it didn’t have the velocity to fall properly. Caught on the night breeze, the seed was buffeted around for hours before “crashing” into Penny’s flower pot.

Not being a gardener, Penny paid no attention to the outside. She spent her time at work and inside her home unpacking boxes of books and pillows and things she should have thrown out ages ago but didn’t feel like going through just yet. She hung pictures. She cooked dinners. She ordered pizza so friends would paint her bedroom a lovely apple green. She would go to her job without sparing a look for the pot and the strange green shoot pressing it’s way up between the clover and dead zinnias. She would come home from work carrying a bag of groceries and completely miss how the shoot was now a foot high and sporting some impressive blue leaves.

Time passed. The weather grew cold. The impressive blue leaves turned black and that would have been that if the pot hadn’t been so toasty and warm up against the brick house. It went to work growing under the surface. Roots, tendrils, tubers, lines of communication, lines for food and nutrients, water traps, all snaking around inside the pot. Months of darkness spent growing stronger. It lived on rainwater than snowmelt, then rainwater again as the sun warmed the earth. It sent up branches and unfurled them into leaves.

Penny had stopped for a pizza. She juggled it and a bag of french fries. She needed the keys and they were in her pocket. The pizza tilted dangerously. Sighing, she placed it on the ground and with a harsh word for any ants that were hanging around, she dug into her coat for the keys. They came loose and dropped right in front of her pot.

“Whoa,” Penny exclaimed.

She was eye level with greenhouse size cobalt blue leaves with lovely lilac veins. The alien plant rustled its leaves in greeting. Penny took a picture of her social media. Smiling she patted the leaves gently, telling the plant, “You are beautiful.”

No one could identify the plant. Penny’s friend Sam was a gardener. She had never seen anything so blue! The internet accused her of putting blue dye in the soil. Her mother said it was probably global warming. Penny got it a bigger pot. She fed it carefully with plant food. She watered it for good measure when it was dry. And after Sam noticed the plant looked a bit sad, Penny started talking to it.

Penny liked to think she and her plant which she named Blue, she didn’t have the best imagination, were friends and her wish had come true.

Take a Deep Breath

DeShaun reluctantly climbed into the raft. He unnecessarily tightened the straps on his life jacket as he settled into his seat. He hooked his feet under the seat in front of him and grit his teeth. A skinny white guy in long black Bermudas, black long sleeve tee, black aviators and a black life jack hopped in next to him. He flashed DeShaun a smile. “Wow, we are like total opposites,” the kid said waving between them awkwardly, “What with your skin tone and your white clothing. Like you’re a photograph and I’m your negative.” The kid chuckled.

“Yeah, not with your hair,” he argued and touched his gravity-defying natural hair.

The kid looked away and self consciously ruffled his dark brown hair to make it poofier. “Well, yeah this isn’t a photograph anyhow, this is real life. And, real life has real consequences.” He pointed a bony thumb at the people loading into the raft behind them. “For them. Not you. You’ll be alright. Just when it happens, take a deep breath. Okay, DeShaun? Big breath.”

The kid mimed several deep breaths. DeShaun rolled his eyes even as a cold shiver ran down his spine. The idea to get off the raft and go home was growing. Not that he could, Talia Elkin had suggested the white water rafting trip. He couldn’t let her see he was nervous. He offered her his best smile. She caught his gaze and winked. A spray of water hit her. Everyone laughed, except the goth kid. He just stared at DeShaun. His eyes could barely be seen behind his sunglasses and DeShaun was glad of it. Kid was weird.

Goth kid leaned back and said, “Hey guys, why don’t we skip the class five rapids today? I ate a big lunch. Might puke.”

Giggles erupted. A chorus of ‘no’s escaped the group.

“I tried,” Goth kid said with a shrug, “Remember that…after, yeah?”

DeShaun thought he might puke.

The guide ran through safety measures. “Grip with your feet. We are going to hit some gnarly rapids. If you are thrown out of the boat, get into the ‘down river swimmer’s position.’”

“Hey man, you should pay attention,” the Goth kid said as he put on his helmet.

The guide explained the commands. DeShaun found himself intently listening. The guide said the waters were rough but not terrible. He schooled them in how to hold the paddles. The kids behind him, Talia, Ram, and Alison were shoving each other and knocking helmets. The Goth kid ignored them, gripping his paddle.

And they were off. Paddles dropped with hard smacks into the water. The water was calm-ish. The sun was shining. The air smelled like water, plastic, and sunscreen with a hint of fish. DeShaun began to relax. The Goth kid was whistling merrily as he paddled. It sounded like a pirate song DeShaun had heard in a video online. Ten minutes in, and he had relaxed enough to enjoy himself. The water spray kept him cold. He looked cool in front of Talia. The weird kid was keeping his weird to himself. It was all good. He was one with Nature or some crap.

“We’re going to his some class two rapids. Should be a little bumpy. Nothing to worry about,” the guide shouted. “Remember to listen to me.”

The Goth kid sang out, “Fight, flee or surrender!”

Talia tittered.

“Dude, shut up.” DeShaun hissed.

“Defeat you can’t deny,” he warbled, “Better give up in the first place…”

“Sing it, Goth kid,” Talia shouted.

DeShaun’s eyes flipped to the guide as the boat hit the rapids. It was bouncy but bearable. He gritted his teeth against the spray. He choked on it, half blinded. The boat started to list then tip heavily to the left.

“High-side!” the guide shouted.

DeShaun through his weight right. The Goth kid didn’t. He reached out to grab him but the movement knocked the aviators off his face. His black eyes glowed red. DeShaun recoiled. The guide shouted instructions. The raft dissolved into chaos. The kids behind them were screaming.

“Or drown in the blink of an eye,” the Goth kid sang calmly as the boat capsized.

DeShaun took a deep breath.

 

The End.

Lyrics from Running Wild – Pirate Song

Honey, I’m Home

I used to have pets. They were good company but one by one they died and I didn’t have the heart to replace them. I had been single for a decade. Still youngish at 40 I wasn’t worried about it. I was lonely sure, and nights were a bit cold in my drafty apartment but I managed. I even got in the cute habit of yelling out, “Hey honey, I’m home,” every night as I tossed my laptop bag onto the hall table and my keys into the bowl.

It was a silly thing to do. It wasn’t hurting anyone and for a fleeting moment it made me feel like I was in a 50’s sitcom and my significant other would be waiting in the living room, maybe not in a dress wearing pearls with a martini but maybe with a pizza and some mixed drinks. And if they weren’t there in real life, online ordering apps handled the pizza end of it.

Friday, I opened the door after a long day of being called an idiot and all I really wanted to do was skip right to the drinks. I opened my mouth to greet my imaginary partner and sighed. What was the point? Shrugging, I ignored my black mood and called out, “Honey, I’m home! Did you miss me?”

“I did, darling,” a voice called back.

I dropped the laptop bag on the floor. The tantalizing scent of pineapple and ham pizza drifted to me in the foyer. I walked down the hall to the living room. Curled up on my sofa was a petite brunette with a pixie cute in silky striped pajamas, holding two drinks. “I made you a seven and seven. We’re out of rum,” she said and made a face. “It’s gross but it gets the job done.” she took a sip to prove her point and grimaced. “I am sooooo um, well drunk. Work was traumatic. You?”

“I-ah, it was also traumatic,” I replied wondering if I had had a stroke.

She waved for me to come closer. I did, magnetically pulled to the sofa. I collapsed next to her and she handed me the drink. I sipped it, coughing. “Gah, this is revolting.”

“Mm,” she agreed.

I gave her a sidelong glance. Her eyes were so brown they were black. Her skin was a nice medium tone like a natural tan and a hint of cleavage could be seen where she had misbuttoned the top two buttons on her pajama top. Shapely legs were pulled up under her and she had one hell of a wicked smile.

“You are my dream girl,” I told her.

Her cheeks flamed red and a giggle escaped her. “You’re in a mood,” she commented, flipping the pizza box open. “Get a slice in you before you puke up all that whiskey.”

I ate a slice. It tasted fine, not like LSD or any other hallucinogens. Not that I would know. Listen, it tasted like ham, and pineapple and lovely mozzarella.  My drink tasted like suffering which is what whiskey always tasted like to me, so it wasn’t the food.

“How long have we been together?” I asked.

Her smile faltered, “Janie, don’t ask questions like that. It makes me think you don’t want me here. Don’t you want me here?”

Something in her eyes glowed oddly. I blinked and it was gone. My dream girl smiled and grabbed my free hand. Her nails were manicured in a matte black giving me the illusion of a wolf’s claws. Her skin was warm and the scent of pizza, whiskey and something wild hit me. Her smile was wistful.

“I do want you here,” I replied. “I must have hit my head or something at work today, honey. I’m sorry.”

That pleased her and she squeezed my fingers. The black in her eyes started to fade to a root beer. She tugged on my hand until we were half in a cuddle. The shock to my system was instant. I couldn’t remember the last time anyone had wanted to touch me, let alone huddle up on the sofa together. Her warmth seeped into me.

“Am I dreaming?”

She frowned. “Janie please.”

“I’m just… happy you’re with me,” I said when her breath hitched, eyes flashing black again. Whatever she was, she wanted to be with me and as she placed a gentle kiss on my cheek, I realized I wanted her to be with me too. “I can’t remember your name.”

“Janie,” she warned.

“Fine,” I said. I wasn’t allowed to ask or know who or what or where she came from if I wanted to keep her. Was I that lonely? Had I been fooling myself with my little game? Had I called something into existence? Someone? Was she a demon? Did I care?

She slid her free hand up my thigh.

No.

I did not care.

“Do you want me to stay,” she asked, a hint of points showing in her smile.

“Yeah,” I said, “Stay with me.”

Her smile was brilliant.

Honey, I am home.

End.

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Better than a Seance

“Come on, somebody has to want to use this thing,” I called out.

The party was in full swing around me. People dressed as pop culture icons milled around with the staples. A sexy witch offered a sexy marshmallow (I shit you not) a can of beer before walking over to a sexy dead girl to talk about a guy in a state trooper uniform. I slumped down against the sofa. My costume was a classic. I was a wolfman. Not that I had the head on, it had been hot and I had taken it off a long time ago.

I called out again, trying to get someone to notice the ouija board on the coffee table. The thing was ancient, the varnish chipped and the letters fading a bit. Some mobster had dropped an empty can of beer on it like it was an elaborate coaster. If I didn’t move fast, others would follow and no one would even notice it was a cool thing to talk to ghosts on Halloween Night.

Standing up, I slinked over to a couple and whispered in his ear, “Hey, why not have a seance.”

When his response was to shove his tongue farther into the girl’s mouth, I whispered in her ear, “How scary would it be if we contacted a ghost?”

She shivered.

To be honest, I think it was because of that guy’s tongue and not my neat idea. I wandered away, rolling my eyes. The music kicked up a notch. It was all thump, thump, thumping with electric instruments. Lights flickered along with it and people flickered, slowing and speeding up in the flashes. The partiers got into it and the living room became an impromptu dance floor.

Huffing, I went outside to get a breath of fresh air. I slumped down on the steps next to a girl in all black. Her conical hat was off to the left and her fishnet stockings were artfully torn. “Ah, a sexy witch,” I muttered, thoroughly over it.

“Thanks,” the girl answered brightly. “I wasn’t going for sexy though, I was going for authentic. Because I am. Authentic that is, not sexy generally. Thanks for that.”

I opened and closed my mouth a few times. “Ah, um, well, you are and you are welcome.”

She giggled. Her bright gray eyes sparkled in the moonlight. She leaned back and I got to see just how long her legs were through a split in her not-meant-to-be-sexy black dress. She caught me ogling and snorted. I rolled my eyes.

“Hey, you want to get a seance going?” I asked.

“Why? I don’t need one to talk to you.”

I huffed. “It’s not about talking. I want to possess one of those dumbasses for the night.”

The witch’s eyebrows went up. “You’re Kevin.”

I nodded, beaming at her. She was not only a sexy witch, she was a smart one too.

“You’ve been dead for like-”

“Ten years, yeah,” I interrupted. “You weren’t lying about being an authentic witch. Is that why you can see me?”

She nodded and gave me a once-over, flattering.

“Should I help you move on or something?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I agreed, widening my eyes at her, “you can help me into that guy over there.”

I pointed to a guy who looked a bit like me. He was thin, tall, and dressed as a mummy. “Then I can buy you a drink.”

“The drinks here are free,” she remarked and glanced over at the guy, “What happens to him?”

“I get to be him for a night,” I answered. “I get to hang out at the party. I get to drink and have fun. He gets the hangover. Come on, help a spirit out.”

“Do you know who that is?”

“Random guy, who might be me for a night? No, I don’t care. I want to eat chips and pizza. They ordered from my favorite place. Come on, please? I only get until dawn. Don’t make me beg.”

“No, shut up. I’m telling you that’s Carter Greene.”

“So?”

This was exasperating! Why wouldn’t a witch want to help me possess someone? I am proof of the supernatural and no one ever got hurt. It was just one day to them and it meant the whole year to me. One night of life to get me through death…

“He killed my cat,” she said her voice dropping low and dangerous.

“Do you want me to contact your cat on the other side or something? I can do that for you,” I offered. “I hang out with my neighbor’s dog. He was cool in life and he is super creepy in death.”

“This is your lucky night Kevin,” she said tone sultry.

I perked up. “Is it? I hope it is. Why is it?”

“Because I know a spell.”

“You’re a witch,” I replied, “aren’t you supposed to know a lot of spells?”

She laughed. “I like you.”

I flashed her a grin. She was great, really great and it looked like I was getting my wish. I could already taste the cheese and sauce. “I like you too.”

“Great, because after tonight, you’re going to owe me one.”

“Okay,” I agreed easily. I was a ghost. There wasn’t much I could offer. Company? Might be nice to have someone new to talk to after Halloween. Of course, she’d have to come here to the O’Briens. It was where I haunted after all. “Sure. One favor.”

“Let’s go.”

Inside the dance party had broken up into small groups of hard drinkers. My witch led me into the kitchen where she mixed two rum and cokes. She drew a symbol on one with runic swirls or something and whispered into it. The cup glowed green. I didn’t get it, was the spell to make whoever drank it want to start a seance? She gave me a wink and walked into the party on the hunt for Carter.

He was smashing a beer can against his forehead. We rolled our eyes at him. Squaring her shoulders, my witch stalked over to him and turned up the charm by acting sloshed. Bumping into him, she slurred, “You’ve got to help me, Carter.”

“With what, Brin?” he asked, steadying her.

“Mandy made me two drinks,” my witch said, holding up her cup and then the enchanted one. “I’m so gone. Can’t waste it.”

Carter’s smile was predatory. “What do I get for helping you?”

Brin leaned in and whispered in his ear. Carter took the cup she offered and downed it. Done, he crushed the red cup and chucked it at a girl in a unicorn onesie. The girl ran from the room and Carter laughed darkly. He reached for Brin and pulled her close. The urge to punch him flitted through my form as he sealed his mouth over my new friend as if he were a vacuum hose. Brin slipped an arm around him, holding him upright as a blurry image of Carter fell out of his body and crashed to the carpet, looking hazy and indistinct.

Brin’s finger crooked at me.

I looked at Carter. I looked at Carter’s body. Oh, ho, no way! Brin’s expression became strained and she crooked her finger again and indicated the body. I didn’t need to be told a third time. I flitted forward and slipped into Carter’s skin. It was like sinking into a dirty bathtub. It was slimy and gross with leftover dark thoughts. I filled up the dark corners with my spirit until I clicked into place and took over the kiss.

My arms tightened around Brin. I gentled the pressure on her mouth from bruising to gentle and she reached up to touch my face. We separated by inches, smirking at each other. I glanced to the floor to see Carter fading away.

“Brin,” I whispered, “What did you do?”

“Uh uh, you owe me a drink and a favor,” she said and placed a finger over my lips.

“Is this…”

“Permanent? Yeah, come on,” Brin’s grin was brilliant as she took my hand and led me into my new life.

end.

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Take Out

The house music boomed, making her hot blood pulse. Cloven hooves tapped out the beat setting the anklet to jingling with its tiny golden bells. Her wings were furled but the black feathers gleamed purple and green with iridescence. Her fellow demons had laughed at her for sneaking out of the Underworld to visit humans without being called by them. Soul-stealing was a jumping business in this economy. No need to go on soul scavenging trips when sad little pathetic humans were tripping over themselves to get talents or wishes granted.

She didn’t want a soul for the devil. She wanted one for herself, a pet human, a friend, or lover. She dressed the part, in a form-fitting black leather dress that did nothing to hide her ample bosom and long neck. Her tail, hooves, and horns were all painted with purple glitter. The party would be the perfect place to snare a tiny beating heart.

A human male with dark eyes and fluffy hair approached her with a bottle in each hand. He was thin, shorter than her by half a foot, although as a demon she was nearly seven feet tall and taller still if you measured the horns curling back from her head. He had horns as well, paper-mache ones painted in vermilion. The beers were sealed.

“Wow, great costume! Are you a demon?” he asked, “I’m a demon. I couldn’t get the wings right but I did the tail.” He spun and wiggled his butt. “I put a string on it, so I can control it. Made it out of weed barrier. I’m a landscaper. You want one? It’s sealed.”

The whirlwind of conversation amused her. She nodded and he popped the cap off of a beer with his bottle opener shaped like a shark. He handed it to her, popped his own cap and clinked his bottle into hers. “Cheers!”

“Cheers?”

He drank half his beer in one go. She followed suit, unsure of the drinking customs in this time. He winked and polished his off. She raised her eyebrows. He grinned brightly. She was unsure of how to proceed, so she stared. The smile on his face dimmed.

“Am I bothering you? I can go. Only, everyone inside is dressed as TV characters and you and I are the only demons. Thought it might be fun to hang out with another demon for a bit,” he said.

She grinned, showing him miles of sharp pointy teeth. “Yes, we demons should stick together.”

“Good, great,” he said, laughing in relief. “Want another beer?”

“Yes,” she said, amused with her new human friend.

He disappeared and reappeared with a small bucket full of them. She let him open her beer for the second time and he flipped the caps into the bushes with a bit of flare. He took a sip but didn’t chug it, so she copied him.

“So, what made you want to be a demon for Halloween?” he asked.

Ah, humans did like small talk. Demons not so much. “I was looking for someone to go home with.”

He flushed. “You-what?”

“I came here to find someone to take home. Haven’t had any company in a few centuries,” she explained, knowing he would never believe her honest truth. He would think her funny with metaphors.

“Oh,” he replied and downed his beer. It seemed to give him strength for the next moment he offered, “I could go home with you. If you want me to.”

Sometimes it was too easy.

fin.

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Slaughter

“I’m going to carve 100 pumpkins,” Laura said.

My daughter held up a rusty steak knife and lightning flashed behind her. Thunder rolled across the heavens and all thoughts save two were blown from my mind on a Halloween breeze:

  1. Where the heck was I going to get 100 pumpkins?
  2. When did my daughter get that steak knife?

“Darling,” I said, “that’s a lot of pumpkins. You’re seven. Last year we did two and we both needed to have a nap.”

Laura wielded the knife like an ancient Viking warrior. “I must have pumpkins, Daddy.”

“Great, I’ll bring the car around.”

My little princess sheathed her rusty sword in a little scabbard she had made herself from one of those felt sheets that were foam instead of felt, so a foam sheet thing from the craft store and I made quick calculations on both of our tetanus shots. She was unconcerned. I decided to roll with it. We had had a tough year and if pumpkin slaughter would make us feel better, why not?

Out of the car as soon as it stopped, she drew her steak knife and charged the patch. I handed my credit card to a surprised teen with bright blue hair and an apron that said, ‘Happy Acres.’ I should have known she would eventually go on a berserker rage. It was in her blood. I had once tried to cut down a tree with a butter knife while in a similar mood. I texted Carrie, my wife, a picture of our daughter dragging pumpkins into a pile by their stems with the caption, ‘bonding.’

I waved at the teen and he brought me a jug of cider. I chugged it. Laura was now randomly stabbing the pumpkins. I sighed and approached the murder scene. Laura grinned up at me. She was dripping in pumpkin juice and had managed to get the top off of one of her unfortunate victims. I offered her the jug of apple cider.

She took the jug and handed me the knife. I stabbed a pumpkin. I know I should have taken the knife and been a responsible adult. I didn’t. I just stabbed the pumpkin again, forming a crude triangle eye. My daughter doused herself in apple cider and let out a war cry. Another rusted piece of cutlery appeared in her hands, a spoon this time, and she attacked the guts of a scalped pumpkin.

Her wide gray eyes were bright with excitement, joy, and an eensy bit of crazy. I called the teen over as my little Viking carved her first pumpkin by caving its head in. “We’re going to need more cider,” I told him.

“And donuts,” she said as she bit into a pumpkin, growling.

God, I live for Halloween.

End.

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