#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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Beauty and the Vampire

Ten thousand words into a book and I needed matchsticks to prop up my eyes. And I’m the author. It’s not good when you’re boring the pants off yourself. It doesn’t bode well for a book.

I’ve wanted to write a decent YA novel for AGES. I’ve tried a few times, but not managed. I like one of my attempts, but a YA book it ain’t – more a coming of age thing meant to appeal to other people who grew up in the 80s/90s.

This time, I thought I’d try a tale about a girl who ends up a YouTube star with her make-up for spotty girls channel. It started off okay. I’d found her a boyfriend. I’d introduced them in the tried and trusted Pride and Prejudice way. I’d even injected a little social grit as my heroine had a little sister who was dying (she was using her channel to raise money to get her sister to Disneyland), and she’d gained a ton of followers online who hung on to her every word. Sometimes they were nasty to her, in authentic YouTube style-y.

And then…yawnsville. Darn it, the writing just slogged on, words clinging to the pages instead of dancing in the air.

Inspiration struck this week. I get a lot of my ideas while out walking. Keep her as a YouTube star, I thought, pacing out the steps to Asda, but change the world and make her motivation different. Let’s throw in vampires!

Now, instead of a YouTube make-up channel for spotty gels, she’s got another audience in mind—those who want to look like ordinary human beings, instead of bloodsuckers.

My heroine still needs to look after her little sister, as her family can’t afford the healthcare for vampire immunisation. Only rich folks can afford it, and that means I get to take a sly dig at Donald Trump too.

Always a bonus, right?

Throw in some Romeo and Juliet conflict via a potential vampire love interest et voila! Something rather more entertaining.

I might still bore it up. Wish me luck. And in a blatant attempt to direct you to my Wattpad account, you can read the first instalment here

And That Includes You, Fatty

Image result for vampire teeth

Picture thanks to Rikard Elofsson

A sample chapter from something I’m working on… (Slight adult content, so stop reading now if you don’t like that kind of thing.)

Her life with Cordelia had been straightforward so far – straightforwardly bloody, the satisfaction of three different, ferocious appetites. Once upon a time, Eve had been meek and mild. Thin and apologetic, her speech was littered with modifiers and qualifiers.

“Do you think… I don’t mind if you’d rather… only if you feel that’s the best idea… well, it’s only a suggestion, I don’t know if I’m really qualified to comment…”

She’d loved those first few months of vampirism. It was all take, take, take. She grabbed people and sucked the life from them, she broke off great slabs of cake and stuffed them into a greedy, gaping mouth, she held the back of her lover’s head in her hands and shoved it between her legs.

Life was very good indeed.

Now? Now it seemed more complicated. Vampires that saw her as different and thus didn’t like her. The mysterious Firm hard on their heels. Some mysterious prophecy she could only guess at. No doubt, it would be your typical prophecy, predicting doom and gloom but worded in an ambiguous way so that believers couldn’t be too disappointed when it didn’t come true.

“I’m Mathilde,” the woman stepped out of the doorway. “Let me look at you, you magnificent creature.”

Aldric and Arnaud frowned at her enthusiasm, Eve noted. Mathilde was an age somewhere between the old man and the young one. She shared Arnaud’s dark hair and swarthy complexion, and his large, almost-black coloured eyes. She was very small, but then Eve remembered reading that the average height of people hundreds of years ago was much shorter than the average height now.

She got to her feet. Again, the clothes were another aspect of vampire life she loved. As a human, Eve stuck to the recommendations for a capsule wardrobe – crisp white shirts, tailored trouser suits, cashmere twin sets and that kind of thing.

Eve the vampire was much more theatrical. “Be a goth!” Cordelia said when they’d both gone shopping for her new, larger body. “You will look incredible!”

Today, she was wearing some of those purchases – a dark-purple velvet Gothic jacket with lace in-sleeves over a calf-length fishtail skirt in the same colour, laced up with ribbons at the back over her bottom, and suede skin-tight boots.

Mathilde made her twirl in a circle before her, touching her lightly. Light touch, nonetheless, she felt the strength and power in those finger tips. Proof once more of the strength vampires gained the longer they stayed alive.

“I love fashion!” She plucked at the in-sleeves and smiled at Eve. “…though this confuses me. It’s not modern, surely? I think you’re a very young vampire, aren’t you? Why are you wearing this old stuff?”

Cordelia sighed. “Mathilde. Nowadays, people like to ape the fashion of yesteryears. Eve is wearing steampunk Gothic. People love that look these days.”

Mathilde nodded slowly. “Good to know. I don’t like to make a fool of myself when I visit couturiers.”

Mathilde had been visiting couturiers for two centuries now. Aldric allowed it as being thin, pale-skinned and aloof, Mathilde didn’t stick out in the high fashion world. And she only bit designers who weren’t destined for greatness. They weren’t missed.

“I don’t believe that prophecy for a second,” Cordelia had risen from her chair

“Don’t you?” Mathilde turned to face her, her expression suddenly hostile. “You keep coming back to the west country, though don’t you? Interesting that this is the first time in years you’ve chosen to come and see us.”

Cordelia rolled her eyes.

“Two hundred and fifty years of kindness and hospitality!” Mathilde was on a roll. “You ungrateful little bitch.”

With a sudden movement, she flicked out a hand, the gesture enough to send Cordelia flying across the room.

Aldric gave a sigh, but didn’t recriminate her.

“Hey!” Sensing that this wasn’t a fight she would win, Eve backed off Mathilde and the instinct to thump her, hurrying instead to Cordelia’s side and helping her to her feet.

Cordelia grasped her hand. “No matter.” She waved aside Eve’s concern.

“Mathilde refers to something a woman once said before we killed her.”

Arnaud produced another bottle of the fine red wine they’d been drinking and topped up all the glasses. “Yes, I think she was the last victim we despatched together, wasn’t she Cordelia?”

For the first time, Eve began to feel jealous. Arnaud had kept his eyes on Cordelia almost all the time they’d been together in the room. At first, Cordelia had seemed to resolutely keep her gaze averted from his but Eve noticed that now she kept darting looks at him.

Vampire sexuality was fluid, Cordelia often told her. She’d never talked about vampire fidelity, though. The discomfort Eve felt was all too human, reminding Eve of her last boyfriend and the unease she’d experienced whenever he went on a night out with his friends. Carl loved women so much he couldn’t help himself. That was the excuse he gave Eve and expected her to sympathise.

Disturbed by her feelings, Eve concentrated on the present. “What did she say, this woman? That prophecy?”

“Oh, some nonsense –”

“Unlike horoscopes or the rubbish peddled by so-called mediums,” Mathilde broke in, “this lady was precise in her prediction. She gave a date when Cordelia and ‘all her kind’ would be wiped out and by whom.”

Mathilde moved forward so she was standing in front of Eve once more. She cradled Eve’s cheek in her palm. “That means you too, fatty.”

With that, Cordelia exploded. “Do not dare insult Eve!”

She vaulted in front of Eve, pushing her out of the way and grabbed Mathilde by the shoulders, shaking her so hard Eve could hear rattling. Maybe it was her brain. Maybe it was her teeth clashing against each other in her jaws.

Eve didn’t care. Watching someone punish another for insulting you insulated you from finer feelings that might object to physical harm.

Mathilde put up with Cordelia’s ministrations for a while, before growling – a long, deep noise that came from her throat and raised the hairs on the back of Eve’s neck. Aldric and Arnaud, she noticed, didn’t seem unduly bothered by the fight.

“Leave me alone,” Mathilde’s words hissed out, the French accent much stronger.

Aldric stood up, his hands held palms up. “Enough, Cordelia. We have established that my daughter and grandson have no manners.” He dismissed their glares with a wave of the hand. “They concentrate on the minutiae when we have bigger issues to discuss – do we not?”

Again, those hands went out to the side in supplication. Eve could not decide if she was terrified of him or if he was an ally. He turned his head slightly to smile at her and she started. Was mind-reading a trick of old vampires too? She concentrated on clearing her head.

Aldric had taken hold of Cordelia’s hand, taking it between his. Eve blinked. Depending on the light, those hands looked quite different. For a second, she’d been given an X-ray view, skeleton hands overlaid with what looked like lizard skin. Then, they changed instantly, back to ordinary, old man’s hands, large and pink-skinned.

The hands moved and he held up one finger in front of Cordelia’s face. “First, we discuss what you did to create dear lovely Eve, here.” He turned slightly and nodded at Eve, who suddenly found herself overcome with curiosity. She hadn’t questioned her vampire existence until this point and now there seemed to be a mystery, or at least something out of the ordinary about it.

“And then we talk about Gregor and the prophecy.”

He dropped Cordelia’s hands and looked hard at her.

“Do you agree, my dear?”

Gentle words aside, Eve recognised a command when she heard it. It was no surprise when Cordelia nodded her head.

“Eve, can you sit down?” she looked apologetic. “I need to explain something.”

©Emma Baird 2017