Sunday, September 30, 2012

Short Story: "Another First Date"

Mr. Osterman is enjoying a quiet week's vacation.  By vacation, we mean that he is knee deep in progress report grading, with two children to manage as well.  The next installment of Mind the Thorns will return next week at its usual time.  In the interim  Mr. Osterman offers up this chilling short story for your amusement.

Another First Date

Jordan smiled back at her date, easing herself down into the car seat.  She tried to swing her legs into the car as demurely as she could; this was the first date she’d been on that the guy had insisted on opening the car door for her.  He eased the door shut and then gave it a firm shove to latch it.  While he jogged around the front of the hood, she smoothed her knee-length skirt over her legs.  So far this had been the perfect night.

Kyle opened his own door and easily slid into the driver’s seat. “I’m so sorry about that.  It’s an older car and that door’s been tricky for weeks.  I really need to get it into the shop to be looked at.”  

Jordan leaned toward him and kissed his cheek.  “Oh, don’t apologize for being a gentleman.”  She eased back in her seat and looked up at the car’s ceiling.  “There are hardly any left, it seems.”

“All the better for me,” Kyle answered, turning the key and starting up the engine.  He grinned.  “I do hate competition.”  He turned the car out of the restaurant parking lot and onto the main road.  The pavement glistened from the recent rain as the tires splashed from one small puddle to the next.  

“Doesn’t competition bring out the best in us?”  Jordan watched the various storefronts and parking lots pass the window as the car worked its way through the college town she called home.

Kyle shook his head. “I prefer a good individual challenge.  A one-on-one affair, not me versus the masses.”

Friday, September 28, 2012

Chapter 15 Addendum

Chapter 15 Addendum

Regan weighed her options again.  She had never dealt much with the police.  There were a few cases where she had been called to testify to some kind of forensic accounting situation, but that had usually been more with the district attorney rather than the police themselves.  She felt completely out of her element.

“What about Stacy?” she finally asked.  “Think she has someone who can get this all to go away?”

Larry considered that.  “The baby-biter does have some time around town.  It’s not the worst idea I’ve heard all night.”

Emma spoke up.  “She eats babies?”

“Nah,” Larry responded, starting the car into gear.  “She’s just a perma-teen.”

“Still not following,” Emma said again, looking to Regan for an answer.

“She was made into a vampire when she was a teenager so she,” Regan paused briefly.  “She’s locked for eternity at the age of fifteen.”

Emma paled.  “Having to suck blood, I could handle.  But an eternity of high school?  No way.”

Our story continues into Chapter 16.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Mr. Osterman had to take a week off and instead offered this short story to tide readers over.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chapter 15

Chapter 15

There were very few things that Regan could say with certainty.  One of them was that neither major political party really cared about fixing the economy as much as it cared about winning the next election.  Another was that if it is not in the budget, it is not getting spent.

On that list certitudes was the fact that Emma was straight.

She was not homophobic; far from, Regan and Emma had stood with gay friends in college to protest some of the more intrusive policies from the school’s administration.  They had shared a dorm room for a semester, and an off campus apartment for a year, and at no time had Emma shown the least interest in other women.  At Gretchen’s bachelorette party they had stopped in a lesbian bar for some drinks and Emma had been hit on, repeatedly, for over an hour.  She laughed off each and every advance, politely but firmly.  Regan was sure she would have done the same in Emma’s shoes, but the massive sparkling diamond Harrison had given her for their engagement seemed to act as a particularly strong ward against unwanted affection.

Which is how Regan knew that there was no earthly reason that her best friend for life would be dreamily following a pretty blonde out into the night to become that particular vampire’s late night dinner.  It had to be some kind of spell or vampiric power that Klarissa, the Earl’s assistant, was using on Emma.  It was the was the only explanation for Emma’s complete entrancement by the blonde woman.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chapter 14 Addendum

Chapter 14 Addendum

Regan’s mind raced with options.  Her best friend since second grade was walking, willingly, into the night with a vampire, presumably, to be a late night snack.  But how could she expect to come between the Earl’s personal right hand blood sucker?  What could she possibly do to stop Klarissa from using some kind of mystical power to seduce Emma and whisk her into the dead of night?

“You can’t leave,” Regan blurted out stalling for time.

Emma’s eyes remained transfixed on the other vampire standing over her.  “I can’t?” she asked, dreamily.

Klarissa did not slow her polite, sensual coercion.  “Of course you can, Emma.  Come, Regan will manage just fine with you.”

“Maybe, but you still need to settle your bill.”  Money was the first coherent thing to spring to Regan’s mind.

“My what?”  Emma’s eyes were half closed.

“Your bill.  You haven’t paid for dinner yet and that is not only illegal but it has wide reaching fiscal impact on every corner of the food service sector.”

It worked once before, maybe it would work again.

Our story continues into Chapter 15

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Chapter 14

Chapter 14

Regan would never recover.

The line moved forward and she had one fewer person between her and the caffeinated concoction of syrups and espresso that started her day.  Her Vanilla Strawberry White Chocolate Mocha was both the bright spot of her morning, and her final positive social interaction of the day.  She shared a cubicle with a brute of a man who still believed that she had been hired to be his secretary and that her insistence that they were equals was nothing but pathological denial on her part.  The few times their immediate supervisor had spoken to him about it, he had laughed as though at any moment Alan Funt or Ashton Kutcher would appear, and the laugh track would roll.  Regan loved her work, sincerely.  She loathed her workplace.

Not that it mattered at this point.  Jason was back at her apartment picking out which Tupperware was his and which spices he had brought to the home.  She should have known that any man who brings Tupperware and spices when moving it was not one that would be hers for the long haul.  Four years of her life and she had been replaced over a long weekend by a second year undergraduate studying political science and environmental science.  She wanted to say she had no idea what Jason saw in her but that was a lie.  She was smaller, prettier, perkier, ate whole foods, and could identify the carbon footprint of everyday items without looking them up.  The line moved forward again and Regan tried not to think about her own non-size four body coming home to an empty house.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Chapter 13 Addendum

Regan nodded at Stacy once then turned her attention to the phone call.

“I’m afraid,” she started as casually as she could manage, “I won’t be able to come to his home.  I suggest we meet at Sharon’s in Royal Oak.”

“You would like the Vampire Earl of Detroit to meet you at a steakhouse?”  Stephanowski’s voice was terse and frustrated.

Regan could sense that this was an option the Earl’s assistant was willing to compromise on.  “I can’t imagine why he would object if all he wants to do is talk.  Is there something else planned for the meeting that I should be aware of?”

There was a long pause on the line.  “The Earl will be arriving at midnight at Sharon’s.  I advise you, strongly, to be waiting for him.”  The line went dead.

Regan wondered if she would be facing a similar fate, as well.

Our story continues into Chapter 14

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Chapter 13

Chapter 13

Regan rolled over and smiled.  He was still there, snoring lightly as he dozed.  She glanced at the clock; there was still an hour until sunrise and she did not want to risk him being there when she passed out.  His blood had definitely had the kick of a man who was alternating between shots and energy drink, but even that probably would not keep her up more than a few minutes into the day.  Best to wake her sleeping Adonis and see him off than to take chances.  In the club, his sandy hair had caught the reds and greens of the flashing lights, now should could just sit and savor its pure gold tones.  She reached up and twirled one of his bangs around a finger, feeling the cool air of the room against her bare chest as she moved.

With a flash of self consciousness she tugged up the bed sheet to cover her nakedness.  She still was not happy with her body, though finding any advice on how to improve her shape post-mortem was a bit of a challenge.  They had not returned to the library, nor had they been summoned to it in the three weeks since she had helped condemn two humans to an eternity of stone servitude.  She reflected on that; it was three weeks to the night since she decided that she had failed to live her first life to the fullest and she was going to make up for it all in her second.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chapter 12 Addendum

Chapter 12 Addendum

Regan glanced between the two other people in the car.  What had she been doing for the last week?  Bouncing from task to task, rarely having a moment to consider what it was she wanted out of her new existence.  Even the choice to open her own practice had been based on the norms of her human life.  She had an eternity to acculumate wealth, why did she feel a need to stockpile it now?  For twenty eight years she had played the games that other people had laid out, quietly respecting her elders, her superiors, her betters.

Now she was a vampire; she was the better.

“What kind of music does this band play?”  She smiled at Daryl.  Life was going to begin in a way she could not predict and it thrilled her.  

Daryl stared back at her through the rearview mirror.  “I’m not sure.  It’s a little like jazz, but it’s got some synths that work in on a music loop, usually featuring some overdriven power cords from the one guy’s guitar.  But it’s all supposedly inspired by aboriginal chants that this one girl, Zoe, is totally into.  She’s dating the drummer, and it’s really-”

Regan cut him off.  She put a hand on Stacy’s shoulder.  “Do you think they need to see your identification?”

Stacy winked.  “They so don’t need to see my identification.”

“Then let’s be groupies tonight.”  She leaned back in the seat.  “And tomorrow night, we’re going to be rock stars.”

Our story continues into Chapter 13

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Chapter 12

Chapter 12

Regan had been dead, now, for roughly a week.  In that time she had been in the debt of others from start to finish.  She owed her new life to her maker.  She had owed a favor to the Earl of Detroit for unknowingly insulting him at her presentation.  Without the gift of blood left in her coffin by Jeremiah she might never have escaped the ground.  Then he had send more blood for her to feed on and had then sent Shannon to her.

She could not repay the debt to her maker; her maker was dead.  She had stepped into a lions’ den of hunters at the request of the Earl; she lived and that debt was clear.  All that remained was to finally clear the ledger of the red ink next to Jeremiah Windsor Book’s name.