by Dorlana Vann
I’m sheltered from the rain
But still I feel the mist.
It mixes with my pain
Confirming I exist.
I’m covered by the leaves
Living amongst the trees.
The more I see and learn
The more the world I yearn.
Fairy’s Sorrow was inspired by The Dryad by Hans Christian Anderson Denmark:1868
It is one of the poems from my collection Supernatural Fairy Tales : Fairy Tale Inspired Short Stories
Hi Friends, I am in the process of querying agents for my latest fairy tale inspired novel. A lot of agents are now using an online forms for submissions. There are the normal questions like, word count, bio, sample, similar books, etc. But I came across one the other day that asked for an optional playlist. At first, I was reluctant, thinking it was a waste of time, but then my husband said, "You should have one of those anyway." You see, I am a huge movie soundtrack fan: Pulp Fiction, Purple Rain, Dirty Dancing, Guardians of the Galaxy, are some of my favorites (btw - I have all of these in records lol). I was like, "You know what? You're are right." It turned out being a great exercise that I really enjoyed. Not only was it not a waste of time, it gave me insight into my novel that I had missed along the way. I went back and changed a couple of scenes that I believe made the book stronger. So I would totally recommend a playlist for your work-in-progress or even novels you think are finished. lol Below are the songs I chose. I didn't add all of these to my submission, and I actually had more and decided I needed to kind of weed them out. You can follow this link: Potion Playlist to Amazon Music if you want to listen to them. (Parental Guidance - some songs are Explicit) Levitating by Dua Lipa Just Like Fire by Pink Season of the Witch by Donovan Die for Me by Post Malone Little Red Riding Hood by Sam the Sham and the Pharaoh's Ocean Eyes by Billie Eilish When I go up by The Pussycat Dolls Love on the Brain by Rihanna Black Magic Woman by Santana People are Strange by The Doors Love, Laughter, and Fairy Tales, Dorlana
by Dorlana Vann
I walked through the front door a little after midnight. Jana sat on the couch in the darkness covered by the quilt from our bed, the images from the television flickered on her solemn face. “Oh, you’re up,” I said and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
“I want to talk to you, Trevor.”
When I caught a glimpse of deep concern in her eyes, I immediately thought something had happened to the baby. “Is Ethan okay?”
“He’s a handful to deal with by myself … but he’s fine.”
“Good, good.” That’s all I needed to know; I could go on to bed because anything else could wait until morning. “Well, goodnight.” I turned and walked down the hallway. But I didn’t get very far.
She yelled after me: “I’m going to hire a P.I!”
As I stormed back into the room, fear flushed my face. I stood over her. “Why would you do that?” When I realized my hands were clenched so tight my fingernails dug into my skin, I tried to relax but still couldn’t control my fidget.
“Because every time I try to talk to you, you walk away. I want the truth. I deserve the truth. Where do you go?”
“I’ve told you a thousand times. You know I’m out drinking with the guys.”
I watched her jaw tighten, and through her teeth she said, “Why are you lying to me?”
My heart raced. Had she already found something? “What makes you think I’m lying?”
Jana tossed the blanket off her lap and stood up. I tensed, prepared for a slap.
She eased to her tiptoes until we were face-to-face, breath-to-breath. “You don’t smell like a bar,” she whispered. “For a man who has been out drinking all night long, you certainly are sober. You don’t drink at home. Why the hell would someone pretend to be a drinker?”
I plopped down on the couch and rubbed my face hard with my hands. “Why are you doing this? Why can’t you just leave it alone?”
“Leave it alone? This is our marriage!”
I had nothing to say, nothing to offer.
“I give up,” she said. “I’m just going to ask, since you can’t be a man and admit it. Are you cheating on me? Is there someone else?”
An affair. It would be a simple enough explanation. “Would that be something you could forgive me for?”
“Wait a minute. That’s not it, is it? Shit, I can see it in your eyes. Trevor?”
“Just do yourself a favor. Do our family a favor. Let this go. Let me protect you. Don’t you see? If I tell you, I don’t know what will happen. I’m afraid you’ll never forgive yourself.”
“What? Forgive myself? What are you accusing me of?”
I looked at her, exhausted, tested, tears filling her eyes. It had gone too far. I knew she would probe until she found the answers. I also knew that it wouldn’t look good if a private investigator came back with pictures. Jana would just draw her own conclusions that would, no doubt, end our marriage. I had sacrificed too much to let that happen. I inhaled and then exhaled slowly. I didn’t have a choice but to confess. “You tried to sell Ethan.”
“I had to buy him back,” I said. “Now I can’t catch a break.”
“Just stop it. Stop it.”
“You wanted to hear this; so here it is.” I stood up and grabbed her hands. “Luck, like anything else, can be bought and traded. Before we met, you made a deal with Luck. Because you had such horrible luck, you agreed to trade your first-born for what you thought was really good luck.”
“Really?” She pulled away from me. “That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”
“After we were married,” I said firmly, “after we were pregnant, you told me what you had done. You told me how you found out too late that good luck was just an illusion; that there were only three types of luck: extreme, medium, and weak. With extreme luck, really good things happen but so do really bad things.”
“Maybe you haven’t been drinking,” Jana said, “but something is wrong with you.”
“You said you tried to take it back, but it was too late. You had already given up all rights to our unborn child, before we met, to some couple with medium luck.”
“This is crazy, Trevor. Do you know how crazy this sounds?”
“I thought so too at the time. But still, I asked you where I could find this luck guy. Even though I didn’t believe you, never believed a word of it, I went there. Even after I found the guy, I still didn’t believe he was who you thought he was. But for your peace of mind, I made my own deal.” I had to think hard. As time passed, the details had faded. I knew it was only a matter of time before I would completely forget just like Jana had.
“What kind of deal?” she asked with impatient sarcasm.
“I remember asking if you could give back the money you had won in the lottery. But that had already happened. He couldn’t erase time. I had to make a new arrangement so that I could keep my son. He called it weak luck, but it’s worse than that, it’s no luck at all.” I shrugged my shoulders because I knew that even if I would have known the outcome, I still would have done whatever I had to do to protect Ethan.
When I looked at Jana’s face—her puckered lips and firm jaw—I knew she hadn’t believed a word I said. But I had to finish. “I gave myself a little test all the way home that night; I flipped a quarter. Even after it never landed in my favor, I didn’t believe it. As each day passed, I pushed the limits a little more. You know, I had to see if it was real. I kept testing my luck, until it became an obsession. Until …” At this point, I couldn’t look her in the eyes. I cleared my throat of my sudden panic and then whispered, “I’d lost everything.”
“What do you mean?” Her words trembled.
“All the money that was left from your lottery winnings, all of our savings … is gone.”
“No, no, no, this isn’t happening.”
“I’m sorry. I just keep thinking that I got to have some portion of medium luck. That’s where I go! To try and win it back.” Suddenly, it became so clear. This could be good. Together we certainly made medium luck! “You can win it all again. All you have to do is buy another lottery ticket, or we could go to the horse races.”
“No! Stop it!” She reminded me of a cat in defense mode: hunched back, hair on end, eyes wild, claws loaded. “I can’t believe you would make up such a ridiculous story so that you could blame me for you losing our son’s future? You don’t have bad, weak or whatever luck, Trevor, you have a gambling problem.”
“What? No!” I wondered how it had happened. How had I become the bad guy? “I know it’s hard to believe. I didn’t believe you when you told me, either. But I gave you a chance.” My body had begun to shake. “Just think about it for a minute. I know the memory of meeting him fades for a reason or everyone would be at his door. But there must be something there. Think Jana, think!”
“You need help, Trevor. Are you willing to get help?”
“What I need is for you to believe me. How many times have you said it yourself ‘Your luck sucks’? How many times has everyone said it? I traded it for you, for Ethan, and that’s why the car keeps breaking down, lights turn red at intersections … the reason I have lost so many jobs.”
“What? You’ve lost jobs? More than one? You don’t work for Laurence anymore?”
“It’s been six months.”
She stood with her mouth open as tears streamed down her face. I took a step to comfort her, but she held up her hand and said, “Tell me his name and where I can find this person, this luck guy.”
I closed my eyes trying to think again, trying to recall.
“What is it Trevor? Give me something. Is it John? Peter? Frank? Larry?”
But his name had left my memory months before. “I can’t. I don’t know,” I said without opening my eyes.
The soft breeze told me she had left the room.
I sat on the couch, waiting for her to go to sleep, thinking we could talk it through in the morning. Maybe as she slept some of the memories would return.
A few minutes later, she walked into the room. When I looked up, expecting another confrontation, she stood at the open front door, her back to me, Ethan asleep in her arms, and an overnight bag slung over her shoulder.
Before leaving, she said, “Good luck.”
If it Weren’t for Bad Luck was inspired by Brothers Grimm’s Rumpelstilzchen from Children’s and Household Tales. Germany: 1812 – It is one of the short stories from my collection Supernatural Fairy Tales available now on Amazon.
Once Upon a Time
Surrounded by winter woods, his grandmother’s house was down a hill, blanketed in the dreary afternoon. Aiden Young wondered if the stately, but definitely deteriorating, two-story would’ve looked less spooky if he and his mother, Lucy, were visiting under happier circumstances. He doubted it.
His mom parked the rental car beside a red BMW and cut the motor. “How do I look?” she asked as she examined herself in the rearview mirror.
“The same way you looked the first fifty times you asked.”
She sat back and sighed wearily. “I’m not sure I’ve ever dreaded anything as much as this.”
The trip to Indiana for Aiden had been perfect timing. He was out of school for the winter holiday and, more importantly, he didn’t have to face Summer, his newly ex-girlfriend. But now he was beginning to regret his decision to come with his mom. She was so stressed, they were out in the middle of what his dad would call the boondocks, and his phone service was spotty.
He was, however, looking forward to seeing his grandmother. They hadn’t visited any of his mom’s side of the family in ten years, so he couldn’t recall much about them. The house, however, triggered a memory: he remembered his cousin, Augustus, chasing him around the porch with a dead squirrel.
“Okay,” he said. “Here’s the plan. Let’s just get this over with. In and out in an hour. Boom.” Not that he was ready to go home, but maybe they could drive to town and have dinner and then check into a hotel with WiFi.
“You make it sound so simple.” She opened the car door. “Well, come on, then. Maybe things have changed around here.”
Aiden climbed out of the car and was greeted by the cold and wet December day. The frequent gusts of wind caused the sprinkles to feel more like tiny ice pellets. He covered his head with the hood of his jacket, tucked his hands inside the pockets, and followed his mom to the covered porch.
Lucy knocked, and the door creaked open a moment later.
Aiden recognized his cousin immediately when he greeted them with a, “What?” His dark hair was slicked back, and the way his swollen eyes, one green and one blue, didn’t hide his annoyance, told Aiden he was still a jerk.
“Hi. Remember us? Aunt Lucy and this is Aiden.”
Augustus scoffed. “It’s about damn time.” He walked away, leaving the door wide open. His hair wasn’t short like it had first appeared but was pulled back in a pony-tail.
Lucy glanced at Aiden as if to say, “Here we go,” and then stepped inside.
As Aiden’s eyes adjusted to the dim foyer, he surveyed his surroundings to see if he recognized anything. The floors were scuffed, worn hardwood. Faded, floral sheets covered huge, framed pictures or mirrors on the wall, and a cobweb-covered chandelier hung from the tall ceiling.
On the right-hand side, and through an open double-doorway, was the dining room. To the left, was a dark hallway, and a wide, wooden staircase.
He thought it strange that none of the grand entryway had stuck in his mind, but perhaps seven-year-old Aiden had blocked it out because even now, at seventeen, the musky smell and the gloominess made him wish he was back home in his bright modern house.
They entered a warm living room. Aiden figured the large windows and glass-paned backdoors leading to the spacious back yard brightened the room during the summer. Today, however, the murkiness of the afternoon drifted inside.
A sofa, a recliner, a console television that looked so ancient that he doubted it received cable, and a small end table with a lamp furnished the room. A dozen or so pale pillar candles lined the mantle of a red-bricked fireplace.
“Whoop,” Aiden said as he tripped on a rug he hadn’t noticed.
Augustus turned and pointed at Aiden. “Dude, watch your step.”
Aiden smoothed the rug with his foot in case it was expensive or something. “Sorry, man.”
“The last thing we need around here is more bad luck.” Augustus shook his head and walked to the chair that faced the blazing fireplace. He sat down, leaving Aiden and Lucy standing awkwardly behind the sectional.
“Sit, if you want,” he finally said.
After they made it to the front of the couch, Lucy only sat on the edge. “Augustus,” she said. “I don’t know how to express how sorry we are.”
Slowly, Augustus swiveled around to face them. “Diesel.”
“My name is Diesel.”
“Oh! Your middle name. When did you start going by your middle name?”
“Five years ago.”
“Oh.” She nodded and smoothed her hair. “How are you? Are you doing all right?”
“The funeral was yesterday,” he said without making eye contact.
“Yeah. I know, and I’m so sorry. I hoped we could drive out to the gravesite.”
Diesel leaned forward and glared at her before saying, “You missed your own sister’s funeral.”
“I know. I know. We really tried to get here on time but the airport, you know, with Christmas. It’s insane. Trying to rent a car was murder.”
Diesel shifted, sitting back in his seat.
Lucy cleared her throat. “How’s Mother?”
“She’s sleeping. Do you want to see her?”
“Nah, not if she’s resting.”
“I’ll be right back.”
When Diesel jumped up and walked out of the room, Aiden tried to exhale the tension with a silent whistle.
The fire crackled as they sat waiting.
Aiden turned when he heard a loud knock coming from above. A railing supported by carved wooden balusters edged the open landing.
“Gran,” Diesel said loudly. “Aunt Lucy and Aiden are here. Finally.”
After he heard the door open and shut, Aiden leaned over to his mom and whispered, “Man, he sure did get weird.”
“Well, he’s been through a lot. He just lost his mom.”
“Sorry.” Aiden felt bad for a second, but his curiosity won. “What was with the rug and bad luck stuff?
She glanced behind her before leaning in closer to Aiden. “Looks like your aunt passed her silly beliefs on to him. Augustus must think you stumbling or touching a certain part of the rug is a bad omen.”
“Diesel,” Aiden corrected with a smirk.
She nodded. “Right, Diesel. Anyway, I knew all the folklore Mother told me and Rose was make-believe, fairy tales. Rose soaked it all in as a child but didn’t go all,” she waved her hands, “you know, until you know.”
Aiden shook his head because he didn’t know. His mom rarely brought up her sister in conversation.
“Well,” she whispered, “when Rose was pregnant, her boyfriend, Harley, left her. I think something completely snapped. Even though I had already moved out by then, I heard Rose took it hard. At least that S.O.B. left money for Diesel when he died.”
They both jumped when Diesel cleared his throat from directly behind them.
“She’s not feeling well,” he said. “She wants to know if you guys can go up there.”
“Sure, sure,” Lucy said, her face bright red.
They stood up and followed Diesel into the foyer and up the stairs. After a few steps up, the stairs turned to the right. Aiden could see over the banister, down into the living room. A chair lift, most likely for Granny, was at the very top of the stairs.
The bedroom door was open, and Granny sat in a recliner covered by a patchwork quilt. Her grey, bushy eyebrows went all the way across and met in the middle of her brow. Her cheekbones sank in, and her long, silver hair draped over her shoulders.
“Lucille, you’re here,” Granny said, her voice ungrateful.
“I’m so sorry about Rose.” Lucy gave Granny a quick, distant hug. “I can’t believe she had a heart attack.”
“I don’t believe it, either. I suspect it was something else. Doctors. All of them, money hungry. Hmph, it doesn’t matter anymore. She’s gone. Rose is gone.”
Aiden heard the door close behind him. Diesel had left the room.
“She was a good daughter,” Granny said. “I could count on her. Always here for me.” She shook her head and then her face softened when she noticed Aiden. “My, my, look at you. You sure do remind me of your granddaddy; those eyes as blue as the sky, and when he was younger he had that dark hair.” Her eyes glassed over for a second as she seemed to reminisce, and then she said, “Come give Granny a hug.”
Aiden accepted Granny’s outstretched arms and hugged her, smelling the scent of grassy earth. When he pulled away, she smiled warmly.
“It’s so good to see you in person,” she said. “I’ve been sent pictures, but it’s not the same.” She looked around Aiden. “Where’s my new grandson? How old is he now, two?”
Lucy cleared her throat. “He’s three, and he has a cough, and I thought it would be best if Mike stayed home with him.”
Granny eased her attention over to Lucy. “I see. Seems a shame, a grandmother never meeting her own grandson. So when you running off again? Soon, I suppose, since you have an excuse.”
Lucy straightened and smiled curtly. “There’s something I need to talk—”
“Granny interrupted: “You can stay in your old room if you want. It’s the same. We haven’t changed a thing in case you ever decided to come home. There’s some clean linens in the hall closet. Aiden, honey, you can take the guest room downstairs. I’m feeling quite weak. Please ask Diesel if there’s some leftovers from Rose’s friends that I can have for my supper tonight. Rose always made supper.”
“I’d be happy to cook,” Lucy said.
Aiden cut her a look. What did she just do? In and out! he wanted to scream.
“I suppose that will do,” Granny said. “Turn the light out when you leave.”
Lucy wrung her hands and then leaned over to the bedside table and snapped off the lamp. The room went dim. She turned abruptly and left the room.
Aiden smiled uneasily at Granny. “See ya,” he said before following his mom’s exit. He shut the door behind him and caught up with his mom on the stairs, mid-ramble.
“She chose to live with Rose, and now she’s saying I abandoned her or something.”
“I didn’t hear her say that, but I did hear you volunteer to cook. We’re never going to get out here?”
“Why don’t we go to the car,” she whispered as they reached the foyer, “and we can talk.”
Once in the car, Lucy placed her hand on her cheek as she stared out the front windshield. “I knew it would be hard, but I can’t believe she’s implying I ran off. I didn’t run off. I got married. I couldn’t bring myself to come back very often because every time I did, Rose acted and looked so strange.”
“Like a witch or gypsy or something. The last time we came here, I swear she was in the kitchen making a potion.”
“No wonder you ran off. Your family is bonkers.”
“Funny,” she said, but didn’t laugh. “I tried to tell Mother that I wasn’t sure Rose should be taking care of anyone and invited Mother to come live with us then. Of course, she wouldn’t hear anything bad about her Rose. Mother chose her over me, so it’s not my fault.” She began to cry softly. “But I really didn’t mean for ten years to go by.”
Aiden searched for a tissue but gave up and pulled a t-shirt out of his duffle bag from the backseat and handed it to her.
Lucy dried her tears. “I know it’s too late to make it up to Rose, but maybe I can help Mother and be there for my nephew. We’ll sit down and have a nice dinner and try to convince them that the best thing to do is for Mother to move in with us. Diesel too, if he wants. I’m sure they’ll see that it’s the best solution. Right?”
He shrugged. After meeting Diesel again, he was pretty sure he’d laugh, or grunt, in their faces. He had money and was old enough to be on his own. Aiden knew what he would choose if given the choice.
“I’m sorry.” She patted Aiden on the leg. “I really didn’t mean to get all into that. Let’s get the luggage and get settled in.”
“Wait a minute. You’re not suggesting we sleep here, are you? I thought we were going to a hotel?”
“It will be late after dinner. There’s no place to stay in town, and I don’t want us to drive real far at night.”
They had driven straight through historic downtown Kingwood, Indiana. And nope, Aiden hadn’t noticed anything that even resembled a Holiday Inn. “Ah, man.”
“It’s only for the one night.” She sighed and stared at the house. “How bad could it be?”
Aiden imagined Diesel looming over his bed with a butcher knife chanting “You are bad luck. I must get rid of all bad luck.” Aiden shuddered. “Right,” he said. “How bad?”
Keep Reading …
The Vampire’s New Suit
by Dorlana Vann
His apartment was on the top floor of a tall building. Everyone knew he was a vampire, so no one would have bothered him even if he had been on the first floor. That was why he found it strange when he heard the knock. After opening the door, he asked, “May I help you?” but thought: Magnificent! Take-out delivered to my door.
“Excuse us, Mr. Smith,” said the first young man of two, “for dropping by unannounced, but you’re not listed.”
“There is a reason for this,” the vampire said.
The second young man said, “I’m Mark, and this is my partner, Trey.” He held out his hand graciously and, without a mere tremble, he shook the resident’s hand.
Intrigued, Smith sought to connect with the gentleman’s eyes. When Mark avoided this with skill, the vampire couldn’t help but grin, something he hadn’t done for centuries. “Perhaps you have happened upon the wrong doorstep,” he said, only because he liked them.
Trey cleared his throat and also avoided Smith’s stare, except with less sincerity. “We’re new to town; however, we do know … who you are.”
Mark said, “We believe we offer a service that may very well interest you and benefit your particular situation.”
“Hmm,” Mr. Smith said. “Is that right? Well, in that case, do come in.” It had been a long time since the vampire had guests—who were alive at any rate—and he found that he was quite enjoying the change of pace. Suddenly, the mundane lifestyle that he had become accustomed to became clear: sleep, eat, and watch TV. He had been doing the latter before the interruption and used the remote to click off the early evening news.
“Please, have a seat. I’m afraid I do not have any refreshments that you would enjoy.” He couldn’t ignore the sudden sound of Trey’s heart as it pumped a refreshment of its own. He licked his lips, knowing the evening could only get better.
Mark cleared his throat. “Perhaps we should come back another time?”
“Don’t be silly. There is no better time. Perhaps you should state your business.”
“Of course.” Mark pulled Trey down beside him as he sat on the couch. “Our company, of which Trey here is a new recruit, provides a unique service to, shall I say, our nocturnal clients. We understand and sympathize with the fact that you’re a prisoner in your home from sun-up to sundown. We have developed a fabric that is solar and flame resistant but extremely lightweight. We design and produce clothing made of these exclusive materials.”
Mark reached inside his bag and pulled out a black swatch. Handing it to the vampire he said, “This is the most popular with our clients, but we do offer many different colors. All we need to get started are your measurements. As you can imagine, this discreet service is not cheap. It’s company policy to receive half—” he stopped when he lost his audience.
The vampire had walked into his modest kitchen and turned on the stove. After all, he wasn’t born yesterday. He put the little piece of fabric over the flame. Nothing happened. He was impressed, already imagining the possibilities. The thought of walking outside during the day after so many, many years was very enticing.
The young men took out their tailor tools, a small catalog, and more fabric samples. In no time, Mr. Smith had chosen a dark gray, pinstriped suit with a high collar, black gloves, and a hat complete with ear and neck coverings.
As the weeks passed, the vampire actually became fidgety. He thought about all the wonderful things he would be able to do during the day. He could even do lunch—if he were to be so bold.
He began to amuse himself as he pondered curious things that didn’t have to do with feeding. He wouldn’t have to hide in shadows. Maybe he would see a matinee. He could walk among the mortals, saying, “Good afternoon.” He picked up the catalog the young men left behind. He thought that next time, he might even buy khaki. He would almost be … human.
Finally, the knock came at the door.
Mark held up a black garment bag. “I have your new suit,” he said with a smile.
The vampire moved out of the way and let him enter the apartment. “Where is your friend?”
“Trey told me he had a previous engagement,” he said and then winked. “Between us, I think he’s a little afraid that you no longer need us.” After giving the vampire ample time to answer, Mark said, “You know, I am your personal tailor, and the only way to get more of these, is through me.” He put the bag on the couch and unzipped it. He pulled out a handsome, well-tailored suit.
It was just like the one in the catalog. Mr. Smith couldn’t hold back his excitement and snatched it out of Mark’s hands.
Mark winced from the sudden pain the vampire’s nails had caused. The amicable mood immediately transformed into intense as they both stared at the red blood slowly escaping its safe haven.
For the first time, the vampire caught and held Mark’s stare. It was so surprising and so challenging that it seduced the vampire into wanting to win. It had been a long time since he had such a tough challenger. But of course, the mortal was no match in the end.
The vampire dropped the suit, catching Mark before he hit the carpet and carefully placed him on the couch. He grinned, his fangs hungering for the taste of such a satisfying victory. Nevertheless, he looked down at his new clothes. The young man would be out for a while, plenty of time for him to try out his new suit.
Although the vampire had acquired quite a wardrobe over the centuries, he had never felt the likes of the material that was against his body. It was soft, like silk, yet form fitting. He wished he could see himself in a mirror. He settled with knowing he would be able to analyze the expressions on people’s faces. Even though the glare of terror so pleased him, he was anxious to see a new expression in their eyes; one of awe and admiration. Complete with gloves and hat, he walked out his door.
“Wake up sleepy head.”
It took Mark a moment to stop his dream and to realize he was asleep. He opened his eyes, took in a panicked breath, and sat straight up. When he clearly remembered his predicament, he hastily felt his neck.
Trey stood over him with his arms crossed. “You’re clear. Even if I am a rookie, I know the rules. If he had bitten you, you would’ve stayed asleep forever.”
Mark nodded, feeling truly foolish. In all his years of being a slayer, he had never allowed himself to be hypnotized by one of them. “Mission complete?”
“Poof,” Trey said, his eyes wide with excitement. “You should have seen him. Oh, that’s right; you decided to take a nap. Anyway, it only took him a second to trust the suit before strolling down the sidewalk like a man about town. When I realized you weren’t right behind him, I knew what I had to do. But don’t worry; I waited, like you taught me, until he hit the mark. I was shaking so bad, but I managed to grab the pull-tag before he even noticed me. But when he did see me, he knew something was rotten and went for my throat. I ducked and ran like hell. What a rush! When I was far enough away and got the nerve to turn around, I saw him still standing in the same spot with nothing on but a frown. But then a second later…” Trey put his fist up by his face. He popped his hands open wide and whispered, “pooffff.”
“Did you gather the catalog and the rest of the money?”
“Yeah, all right here.” Trey held up a white envelope. “You know, I still don’t understand why we just don’t clean them out.”
“I’m not in this for the money. I only charge what is needed to fund our operation. Otherwise, we could turn into the bloodsuckers.” Mark stood up, still feeling a little woozy. “Speaking of bloodsuckers, who’s next on our list?”
“Female,” Trey said. “What I hear is that she’s really young-looking, smart, and smokin’ hot. Hmm. I don’t know. We may have a problem, seeing as you let this repulsive ancient dude get to you.”
“Funny.” Mark grabbed the envelope from Trey. “Just give me the details.”
The Vampire’s New Suit is one of the short stories in my collection Supernatural Fairy Tales. The short story was inspired by The Emperor’s New Clothes from Fairy Tales Told for Children (The third booklet). Hans Christian Andersen, Denmark:1837
by Dorlana Vann
I knew what lurked beyond the trees even before I opened the car door: the forbidden, barricaded beach. Even though I lived only a few miles away, I had never stood so close. Leaning against the car, the wind ruffled my hair as nerves tangled my insides.
“Aren’t you coming, Junior?” Pearl, my date, stood in the moonlight, hands on her hips, legs apart, making a perfect triangle with her skirt.
I shrugged my shoulders. “We’re not supposed to be here.”
“There’s no law against it.”
“Let’s go, you two love birds,” Clay said, shining his flashlight on us for a second before moving on.
“Don’t be scared,” Pearl said. “Just don’t step in the water, and you’ll be fine.”
I shoved my shaky hands into my pants pockets. “I’m not scared!” It wasn’t that I needed to impress Pearl. I had only agreed to go out with her because no one else had said yes, but I didn’t want a mammoth, cowardly act stamped on my already unimpressive rep. “I just don’t believe it, that’s all. Have you ever seen it happen?”
“No, but my cousin, Fern, said he did. After a dare, one of his friends ran into the water and changed right before Fern’s eyes, and then the sea took him. No one ever saw him again.”
This reminded me of all the times my mother had warned me to stay away from the beach, to stay away from the wild Merfolk. “They took your father. Shameful, cannibalistic creatures, behaving like animals in that dirty ocean. Immoral and naked. Catching fish with their mouths. It’s shameful. They took your father you know…”
“Let’s go.” Pearl grabbed my hand, and I allowed her to lead me through the trees. The same salty air I had breathed my entire life now burst with intensity.
After we had caught up with Clay and Iona, we helped each other over the concrete barrier and down into the sand. I heard the soft roar of the dark waves; its movement was the only factor separating it from the color of the sky.
I vaguely heard the others talking behind me before Clay shouted, “No hard feelings, Junior. We just want to see if it’s true.”
The kids laughed, and then suddenly I felt their hands on my back, pushing me the short distance toward the sea.
“Don’t! Don’t!” I pleaded, my feet sinking into the wet, gushy sand. I tried to get away, but I already felt the droplets of ocean spraying my face.
And then they gave one hard, final shove.
A wave pulled me with it, soaking my pants up to my waist. Fear pushed my voice to a scream. I screamed for help, screamed for the ocean to let go!
“Oh crap,” Pearl said. “Maybe we should get out of here.”
The waves were relentless, pushing and pulling. Before long, I was under the water. I fought and cried, taking in mouthfuls of salt and sea, until finally, I made it back to dry sand.
Sunken tracks, where the kids had run away instead of helping me, came into focus.
Tears and saltwater stung my eyes as I remembered the pictures of the hideous beasts that I had been shown since grade school.
Standing up, I examined my legs and put my hands out in front of me, waiting for it to happen. The change. When I touched my mouth, my teeth felt normal, not long and pointed like a monster’s.
Relieved and unchanged, except for my belief that I would never be accepted by kids my age, I started to walk toward the road.
A new sound in the darkness stopped me. I thought maybe the kids didn’t leave me after all but were hiding, waiting to watch me turn into a sea creature.
“I know you guys are there,” I said meekly, becoming increasingly concerned with the alien surroundings. I fought the urge to run. I would not let them win. And then a different, even stronger thought intruded; since I proved the myth untrue, I’ll be like a hero. No one would have to be afraid of the beach again.
I heard the noise again, and I followed the Nnnn to a pile of drifted sand and tangled weeds. The closer I stepped, the more it sounded like a whimper instead of a snicker.
My mouth fell open and my breathing picked up pace as I questioned what I saw camouflaged in the debris. A woman? Long hair, wildly strewn out behind her, was mixed with the sand and seaweed.
“Hey, are you all right?” When I noticed her bare arms and her bare chest, I swiftly averted my eyes. “Immoral and naked.” My heart quickened because I knew I had to see if she was what I thought she was. Hastily, I scanned her beautiful human-looking face; her eyes were closed. My gaze drifted down to her neck, to her breast, and past her stomach.
Expecting legs, not expecting legs, I stumbled back towards the sea. A fishtail! She had a real fishtail! She was not human.
“Oh! Ohhhh …” I put my hands up to my head. What do I do? She was a Merfolk. The reason everyone was warned to stay away from the beach. Just like the ones we were taught about in school, at home, everywhere.
I thought about how Mother would kill me if she knew I was here. It might not have been against man’s laws to walk the beach, but it sure the hell was against her rules.
But something was wrong with the mermaid. I couldn’t just leave, could I?
As I stood, wondering what to do, I noticed a three-inch gash in-between her two bottom fins that seemed clogged with sand. She was hurt. No, I couldn’t leave.
I ran to the water, cupped it in my hands, and ran back. I did this several times, cleaning the wound as much as possible. I pulled my tie over my head and then wrapped it around her fins, bringing the edges of the cut as close together as possible.
I walked back to the ocean for another handful of water, which I put up to her lips. She gave a quick inhalation, sucking up some of the water.
I was startled back and shot to my feet. Running to the water, I shouted, “Hello? She’s alive, and she needs help!” But only the spirited, nocturnal seagulls soared overhead, their replies loud but unclear.
After walking back and forth a couple of times, I dipped into the water once again and took it to her. The mermaid’s blue eyes fluttered open, but I didn’t flinch that time. I let her drink.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
I nodded, a little surprised to hear her speak my language. “Are you all right?”
“I think I just need something to eat.”
“Well, I can run home and make or bring …”
“If you could just help me to the water, I can take care of that myself. Fishing is my specialty.”
“Oh,” I said, recalling what Mother had said about them catching live fish in their mouths.
“Please come be my guest so I can thank you for your kindness.”
“In there?” I looked behind me at the ocean, allowing myself to realize how much I admired it. “I can’t, my mother … besides, I’m not like you. It wasn’t true, after all. I was in the water, and I didn’t change.”
“The sea takes no one who doesn’t wish to be there. You must desire the change. See?” She waved her hand over her tail. “I didn’t change into Landfolk just because I sit on dry land. I love the sea, and I want to return.” She held my stare as she said, “You must love the land.”
Or am I just scared?
A soft breeze lifted me out of my thoughts, as she lifted her arms to me. I struggled but managed to carry her until the waves splashed up to my shoulders.
“I’ll be here in the morning if you change your mind.” She kissed my cheek before sinking into the ocean and disappearing into the darkness.
“Did you have a good time?” Mother stood in the foyer like she had been waiting there since I left. “I’m glad you finally made an effort.” But as she was talking, her smile slowly distorted into a wide-mouth scream. When she pointed at my feet, my face grew hot. I didn’t have to look down to imagine the golden sand that clung to my pant legs and shoes.
She sat down on the stairs, blocking my escape to my room. In between gasps she said, “How many times have I told you never to go to that beach? It’s dangerous. Shameful, dirty beasts! Filthy-cannibalistic-naked-immoral-ugly creatures—”
“They’re not ugly,” I whispered.
Her face froze with a mix of horror and shock. “What did you say?”
I avoided her eyes. “I met one. I umm, I helped one. Her.”
“Swear to me right now,” she hissed, “you’ll never set foot on that wicked, wicked beach, again.”
At that moment, I realized how disgusted I was by her snobbish attitude. I also knew I would never be able to stay away from the ocean, away from the beauty of the Merfolk. “Why do you hate them? Because they’re different? You know, they’re not so unlike us. They can talk and are free to do what they want.” At that moment, what really happened to my father became so obvious. “He chose the ocean, didn’t he? Father wasn’t taken!”
Tears of which I didn’t know Mother was capable began to seep from her eyes. “I should have moved us to the compound years ago just like the Worleys.” And then softly she sobbed. “But I had to wait.”
“Wait? For what? Father’s not coming back. Why would he? He’s free.”
“Don’t you dare disrespect me, Junior. You’re too young to understand the world. Merfolk are manipulative and horrific.” With wild eyes she looked around. “I have to protect you. Go pack! Now!” She stood up abruptly and pointed up the stairs. “Pack up your stuff. We’re moving in the morning and never coming back.” She screamed, “They can’t have you!”
I made my way up the stairs to pack for the compound. A compound so far inland I heard the air smelled of pine. A compound I could not leave until I was of age.
Early the next morning, I climbed out of my bedroom window and found my way back to the beach. It had lost all darkness and now glistened and pumped silver-blue waves as far as I could see.
“You changed your mind.”
I almost missed the mermaid; her hair blended and moved with the water.
“No, I just wanted to say goodbye. My mother is scared of what she doesn’t understand.”
“But you’re not,” her voice rose over the rumble. “I can see it on your face. My little fish has fallen for the sea.”
“I don’t know.”
She held out her arms to me. “There is only one way to find out. Give yourself fully to the waves.”
I stepped into the water, thinking I would come back later and tell Mother goodbye, but the feeling of belonging already overwhelmed me. I swam above the water, against the waves, towards my new home.
The further I swam the further away the mermaid seemed. I watched the tip of her tail go under. Taking a deep breath, I plunged in after her.
Immediately, I felt different. I was changing! My legs felt as one unified object. But when I gave in to the need to inhale, I choked violently. I coughed and gagged until finally I felt accepted.
My eyes had burned feverishly from the saltwater during the ocean’s initiation; now they could focus on the new surroundings. Brilliant and vivid fish that I never imagined existed swam playfully around me as if they were celebrating my arrival.
To my surprise, a group of Mermen suddenly appeared. My heart thumped wildly. I started scanning their faces, searching for my father. I smiled, and they grinned.
They opened their mouths, exposing daggered teeth. They came closer, surrounding me, licking me with their shameful, filthy, cannibalistic tongues.
Fishing was her specialty.
Forbidden Beach is one of the short stories from my collection Supernatural Fairy Tales. It was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s Thumbelina from Fairy Tales Told for Children (The second booklet) Denmark: 1835.