#amwriting Let the Right One In – a Short Story for Halloween

Humans always let their guard down at this time of year… Dumb of them, I know, but we all get to enjoy ourselves, so I don’t complain about it.

Meet me. Cordelia. Vampire extraordinaire. Even if I do say so myself. I’ve been undead for the last six hundred years or so (you don’t keep an exact score past a certain number of decades), and my motto is fun, fun, fun.

Admittedly, sometimes my pleasure comes at other people’s expense, but let’s not go into that now. We’ll concentrate instead on All Hallows Eve, or Halloween is as it’s more commonly called these days.

Trick or treat.

I don’t approve, this Americanised version of what was traditionally called guising in Scotland. (I’m not from Scotland. Just staying here temporarily, waiting for the heat to die down on another continent.)

No, the little people in Scotland used to get dressed up in home-made costumes and make their way to neighbouring houses. They had to tell a joke, sing a song or perform a magic trick. Then, they were rewarded with sweets, monkey nuts and sometimes money.

Now, the ungrateful little brats rap on doors and demand people hand over their stash of sweeties for no reward. If they don’t, then it’s the trick. Something nasty happens.

…which is where I come in. Trick or treat? I offer both. At the same time.

I choose carefully which doors I knock on. There might be households where there are happy couples, their faces beaming at me as they open the door. “Oh! Your costume is amazing! Where did you get that make-up and those fake sharp teeth?”

“A brilliant shop not that far away!” I said. “Shall I pretend to bite you for the ‘trick’ bit?”

Mrs Fraser said ‘yes’. She enjoyed it at first, but sadly Mrs, Mr and the as yet unborn Fraser didn’t live long enough to warn their neighbours of the perils of opening the door to women who look too much like the real thing.

This year, I plan to reinvent the guising thing. I will insist that every household that invites me in (you know what they say about letting the right one in, yeah?) should at least make me work for my reward.

I’m looking forward to it!

Here we are. I’m at my first house, tagging along with a small group of little people, dressed in…Asda costumes. Oh. God. Now, where’s the effort in that? They all swing plastic bags, full to the brim with sugary shit that will rot their teeth and small bodies.

To amuse myself, I puncture small holes in all the bags. As we walk on, the goodies drain out slowly, leaving a Hansel and Gretl-like trail.

Kids, you’ll thank me for this later.

House number one. The door is answered by… ooh, Mr Hot! This does make a pleasant change. Dark hair and eyes, tall and wiry of frame—just my favourite kind of guy. And also possessed of a pulse.

He meets my eyes above the children level. “Hey! Fair play to you, dressing up too!”

“I know! Jesus wants me for a sunbeam. I’ll get my reward at some point.”

He bursts out laughing at that, the sound of it attracting his significant other/wife. She stands right next to him and stares hard at me.

Oh-oh. Jealousy.

No need, love! My internal voice says, I promise you a sexual predator is the LEAST of your worries.

I pat the head of one the little things next to me. He glares in response.

“You have to buy so much for Halloween now, don’t you?” I say, making sure I angle my head, so my eyes can look straight at the wife. “In my day, there was none of this trick or treat nonsense. You went to your neighbours’ houses and had to work for your money!”

“Aye, too flippin’ right!” the wife says. “D’ye want to come in?”

Ah, the invite to enter. Always a goodie.

I shuffle the children in front of me. They are all whining about trick or treat, and I tell them, that sadly on this occasion, they will need to actually make an effort.

Handsome guy, jealous wife and I watch as the kids perform. Truly, it is embarrassingly dreadful. Do their parents find them entertaining? The triumph of hope over experience, surely. Nevertheless, we clap enthusiastically when they finish, me especially. I’m supposed to be the guardian of this group, after all.

Jealous wife stirs herself at the end. She leaves the room and comes back minutes later armed with so much sugar you could dissolve a canine tooth instantly.

Not mine, though.

The kids scramble for wine gums, drumsticks, star mix, Tangfastics and more.

Jealous wife starts to mutter. She did this home-made stuff. She bought the Sainsbury’s magazine and did the whole mummified sausage pie and spooky Halloween cupcakes thing. She proffers it on trays.

The kids don’t give a shit. The home-made stuff goes untouched.

We watch them leave the house, their holey plastic bags filled with sugary content which will spill out on to the path behind them as they walk home.

Jealous wife stirs herself. “Oh! Aren’t they yours, those kids?”

I shake my head, cheerily. “Not mine! But the poor little things were wandering around all by themselves. I thought they needed guidance.”

Handsome husband nods his head. “Bloody hell! That was good of you!”

The next bit is delicate. You need to approach it with surgeon-like precision. “Gosh!” I say, “you two are so… well, I don’t meet people like you very often.”

Always, always tell people they are special.

Jealous wife has drunk her wine in double quick time. Her husband’s mouth is hanging open.

I stand up, and I hold my hands palms up in front of me. “You’re like…open-minded, yeah?”

Both of them nod furiously. Close-minded. It’s the worst thing you can be accused of, right?

“I like boys AND girls,” I purr, and they do too. One hand is clasped by handsome guy, the other by jealous wife.

“Shall we have some fun?”

Handsome man and now not so jealous wife speed me up to their bedroom so quickly, my feet barely touch the ground. Once there, handsome man pulls off his tee shirt, while his wife struggles in an undignified way with her jeans. In no time, they are both naked.

I get rid of my cloak.

“Aren’t you going to get…undressed?” the man asks, disappointment clear.

I shake my head and move in on him. In no time, my non-naked state is forgotten.

“Hey!” the wife pushes herself between us. “My turn, I think.”

Goodness. She IS enthusiastic. Years of bi-curiosity, I guess, coupled with a sexually useless husband if my seconds-ago encounter is anything to go by.

“CORDELIA!”

The three of us jump at that, the sound coming from downstairs. I recognise the voice, and I curse.

The man and the woman are scrambling around for their clothes.

I put a hand out. “I know who it is. Er, would you like a little more company? We’re all friends here, right?”

The wife nods, her excitement palpable. The husband is no longer so keen. Probably because the voice that shouted its way upstairs was male.

I move to the door and yell at Arnaud to come on up. Arnaud grins at me as he climbs the stairs. I grimace at him. I was hoping to keep these two all to myself, but here he is again, muscling in on my fun.

The wife stares at him, wide-eyed. No wonder. Arnaud makes her husband look run of the mill in the looks stakes. He’s dressed as a ‘traditional’ vampire, or what people conjure up in their heads when they think of Dracula – tux, cloak and a subtle sprinkling of blood on his white shirt.

Real blood.

He’s male cover model material. And doesn’t he know it?

“So, where were we?” he asks, untying the lace that holds his cloak around his neck. He pulls the wife towards him, caressing her bottom and burying his face in her throat.

Ah, yes… we blood-suckers get off on the smell of pulsing blood. It’s strongest there. Arnaud’s eyes close, but not before he shoots me an infuriating wink.

In retaliation, I pull the husband to me and do the same. Arnaud and I face each other, the man and the woman between us. He signals with his eyes, and we bare our teeth. Synchronicity is what you aim for in a two-vampire situation.

He holds a hand up behind the wife, two fingers bent down. Three, two…

The door opens again, and the four of us turn in astonishment. Stood there are two of the little shits that I brought here earlier, their arms folded and their eyes narrowed. The man and his wife are scrambling for clothes once more, no doubt fearful that the foursome story will make it all the way around the neighbourhood and back again.

“You put a hole in my bag!” the boy points at me.

Honestly! What a single-minded young man, coming all the way back here to shout at me for saving him from dental decay and obesity.

“And you’re real vampires!” the girl says.

Bloody hell, where did that come from?

Too late, I realise they are pointing guns at us. The model is the one that fires silver bullets. It looks as if this time, I was the one who let my guard down.

Great.

©Emma Baird 2017

 

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Global Warming – Friday Flash Fiction

A little Friday flash fiction for you…

“I’m still waiting for global warming to kick in.”

“Not half. It’s been a long winter.”

British weather offered conversation for every situation. Our new neighbours—four small children and a dog—moved in last week. We watched, half-hidden behind curtains, as they installed a trampoline in their garden.

It had been cold and wet ever since.

“How old are your wee ones?”

“The twins are three, Alex is five and Karly’s six.”

The four of them had appeared, fanning out behind their dad. They regarded me coolly, shaking their head when told to say hello.

War was silently declared.

©Emma Baird 2017

A Meeting

Here’s a little flash fiction…

A Meeting

The tutor looked familiar. It took her ten seconds to remember – the sofa in her flat, ten years previously.

Did he recognise her? Hopefully not. She made sure to look at him when he talked, the way someone who has no history with another person would.

Maybe she waved her left hand about a bit too, waggling the fourth be-ringed finger. His own left hand was bare.

Nonetheless, when he said ‘good’ in response to a point she made, she glowed. At the end, she thanked him – glad that his attention was taken up by others anxious to talk.

Exes.

Flash Fiction – Two Examples

For more than two years, I wrote a flash fiction story every week. As I love alliteration, I wrote the story on a Friday so I could call it Friday flash fiction.

I stopped because I wanted to concentrate on writing books. My imagination is finite. If I use it up on short stories, there’ll be less left for books!

However, last Friday a member of a group I’m part of wrote a lovely little tale about the founder of a flash fiction group on LinkedIn. I couldn’t resist it… Here’s the original story and my response.*

The Painting Problem, by Russell Conover

The painting club was enjoying a weekly meeting, with one exception.

“Great to see so many faces here,” Bob said with a smile.

“Yeah, but I miss our founder Jill,” Ted lamented. “Wonder what happened to her?”

The painters looked at each other and shrugged. Jill had occasionally been in touch with brief updates, but compared to her flawlessly regular masterpieces before, she’d all but vanished.

“Hey–why don’t we work together on a tribute painting for Jill?” Betty suggested.

“Awesome!” Tanya exclaimed. “Then she’ll know we miss her.”

“Let’s do it. We owe our founder a shout-out.” Ray smiled.

The Wobbly Glass, by Emma Baird

“Jill? Jill? Are you there?”

In extreme circumstances, Ouija boards served a purpose. The glass whizzed across the board to the letter Y.

Ray smiled. “Okay, so she went over to the other side.”

Betty looked puzzled. “She sounded perfectly well the last time I spoke to her.”

The glass wobbled ominously. It moved from letter to letter so fast, it was impossible to keep up.

Ray nodded slowly. “I think I know what this other side is. Clarity and precision are no longer our founder’s watchwords. I think she’s been kidnapped by the stream of consciousness crew.”

 

For more Friday flash fiction, see the WordPress site, Friday flash fiction, and the website of the sane name.

*I’m duty-bound to report that there was a typo in my story. I wrote “steam of consciousness”, rather than “stream”…

Deep-Fried Marshmallows

If you’ve ever worked with clients, you’ll probably know what I mean by this short story.

Fish_n_chips“The thing is with clients… they know for sure what they don’t want, but seldom know what they do want.”

“Too right! You’re expected to be part magician/part mind reader.”

“My mind reading skills have failed me of late.”

“Well, the usual trick is to give them the opposite of what they asked for.”

“Mmm, might work. When I gave them what they requested, they hated it.”

“Oh – they really didn’t like the battered, deep-fried marshmallows with ketchup?”

“Not one bit of it.”

“You could try fish, and maybe serve it with some fried potatoes?”

“I’ll give it a shot.”

 

©Emma Baird 2016

Big Moll Rules

office cleanerYou don’t mess with big Moll…

Literally. She is our office cleaner and her baleful glance takes in our slovenly habits. Dirty coffee cups littering surfaces. Food eaten at desks. Banana skins discarded in wastepaper bins.

She thumps her broom on the floor.

“Things are gonna change round here.” She points at all of us, and lights up a cigarette.

“You can’t – ”

The glare silences me. The last two decades’ no-smoking rules don’t apply to Moll.

“I’ll stop smoking when you b*****s clean up after yourselves.”

“Aren’t you supposed – ”

I fish the banana skin out of my bin.

 

For more Friday flash fiction, please visit the website: www.fridayflashfiction.com or the WordPress blogPic thanks to Leigh Marriner on flickr.

©Emma Baird 2016

 

 

 

 

 

One IS Fun

This week’s Friday flash fiction is a little wishful thinking on my part. I’ve just acquired another cat and I’ve spent the last few days stressing about it. Cats don’t need company – FACT. 

two cats“If one is fun, two must be amazing!” Alice trilled to The Cat.

The Cat regarded her balefully. Typical human. Imposing its wants on another species. Anthromo… Anthromorphos…

What was the darn word, anyway*?

The new companion arrived. Alice opened the carrier and he emerged, blinking.

The Cat sighed. Humans needed company. He didn’t. Who wanted more competition for food, water and places to sleep?

The little one sidled up. “Hey I know you are worried, but I promise it’s all going to be fine!”

Oh this was worse! If there was anything The Cat hated, it was a sook.

 

 

*Anthropomorphism – i.e. the attribution of human traits, emotions, and intentions to non-human species. It’s  considered to be an innate tendency of human psychology.