Halloween Haunts: Crawl Space by Juliette Kings
My daughter has a tote bag printed with the words, My Mom Blogs About Vampires.
When you are a parent who writes about the paranormal, horror, and urban fantasy, it is always Halloween, and of course you’re always the cool parent.
Back in 2012 I started a blog about parenting middle school and high school kids. Nobody read it, that is until I made it about parenting young vampires, who aren’t all that different from other kids. That said, it made a big difference. Adding horror to anything, including parenting, is not only fun but it brings in readers.
Now I am an empty nester with a crazy following. My children are adults now. I gave them wings and they flew. Oh did they fly. Yet, with me, or alone Halloween continues to be the most important holiday of all for my children.
Unfortunately even busy moms have to sometimes work on Halloween. I have a brother who always needs my help with something.
A few years ago he called me out to a half-way restored Victorian house not far from his home. It was October 31, 2019. Later that day wrote a blog post about the experience.
I took off my sweater and handed it to my brother Aaron. There was no way I was going to crawl on my stomach under the crawl space of a house with it on.
“I still have to finish decorating for tonight,” I told my Aaron.
“We’ll be done before noon,” he said, even though I doubted it.
“So, tell me again why you can’t get the bodies out from under the building first?” I had to ask.
“They’re not quite dead yet and they might attack Austin. He’s human, a regular human,” my brother told me. Austin by the way is a regular human and sometimes vampire hunter and usually just a guy who does a great job restoring old buildings that seem to be filled with scary shit like ghosts and old musty Vampires.
And naturally being the attorney he is, Aaron was wearing a $5,000 suit so of course he couldn’t crawl under the house.
“You might know them,” added Austin meaning the creatures under the house.
I almost gave him a fang filled snarl, but I just gave him a weak normal girl smile.
Wearing garden gloves, I crawled on my hands and knees over bare dirt. Even in the dark I could see assorted bugs and cobwebs. Rat droppings were scattered around. Why the crap would any vampire want to sleep under floorboards?
About 20 feet into it I was the boxes. OK, whatever, they were coffins.
I thought back of when I was a kid and always the one to crawl under houses and into tight spaces. It wasn’t because I was small. It was because I pretend to be fearless and now it is because I don’t take any BS from shadow creepers and other dusty old vampires who can’t deal with the modern normal world. We’re not having a Nosferatu and Dracula Hoedown kids, this is the 21st Century.
The lids were on the boxes. I managed to kneel on my knees without banging my head on something and pushed one off. Inside was a male in a pinstripe suit. His face was waxy looking and pale. I noticed sunken cheeks and lips that seemed a little thin. He hadn’t fed in a while. The box next to him contained a female. Skin stretched thinly over her face, with a hint of teeth including fangs showing beneath parted lips. Oh come on, all vampire girls know not to sleep with their fangs exposed. She wore some sort of black dress thing with a long string of cheap yellowed pearls. The scent of rotted roses and cigar smoke came from her box.
In the third box was another male. I recognized the face. His eyes open a bit, yellow green orbs rolls to stare at me. I see recognition in his face; a fact that was once handsome and could be again, but he was so strange, so weirdly in the shadows and cold, not like vampires I associate with. He was so dead and utterly without a soul.
Then my butt vibrates. My phone. I pull it out. Clara, my darling 19 year old daughter is calling from college. I am a mom. I must answer.
“Hey mom, what do you call two ducks and a cow?”
“Quackers and milk.”
“Good one. What do you call an Englishman, two ducks and a cow?”
“Graham Quackers and milk. Love you mom.”
I hear a groan from one of the boxes. I slap slap slap it hard with my hand and hiss at it. The noise stops.
I keep my eyes on the once blue, now greenish yellow orbs that watch me as I talk to my child. Clara rattles on about classes and kids she knows. She says she goes to the beach almost every day and is going to go surfing on Sunday. Clara says it is the perfect university for vampires due to all of the night time activities on campus. She is so excited about school. My heart melts a little.
Then my child asks me what I’m up to.
“I’m under a building with three boxes full shadow creeping vampires. You know me, every day is Halloween.”
“How’d you end up there?”
“Helping your Uncle Aaron and a friend. Long story, but the short version is that I was the only one wearing jeans, and I’m smaller than they are so I got elected.”
Old green eyes started to sit up. I hit the side of the box again. “I gotta go Clara. I’ll call you back later today.”
“Hey Mom, I’ll send you pictures of our Halloween costumes. We’re going as Bogart and Bacall in black and white. I even got almost the same jacket and hat from Key Largo. We’re going to be so film noir.”
“Ohhhhh, yes, send photos.”
“Your dad and I are going as Simon and Garfunkel.”
“Oh my god that is too funny. Love you mom.”
“Love you too sweetie pie. Bye.” I looked at my old friend. OK he wasn’t a friend. I’d met him before, a long long time ago. “What are you doing here?” I said trying to keep myself from sneering at him. “You look like a rotting Zombie. What is wrong with you people? Have you lost all self respect?”
“Juliette,” he whispered my name in a dry voice, like old coffee grinds and gravel. “Julieeeeeeeette.”
“Jasper. That last time I saw you was…1923, New Orleans. What are you doing here?”
He started to tell me something in French that I couldn’t quite make out when I stopped him. “Listen, Jasper, you have three choices. The first is that you agree to live like modern vampires and stop this nonsense of lurking around like you’ve just come out of some creep show. The second is that I leave you to the vampire hunters, that is my preference but probably not yours. The third is that you let one of my friends, and I use that term loosely, take you to San Francisco where you can be with others of your kind. But you can’t stay here. We have enough problems in Sacramento without your kind.”
“My kind?” He opened his eyes wide and showed his long fangs.
“Don’t act all innocent, giving me the evil eye and trying to scare me with your ugly mug. You used to be handsome and well, you were never charming, but you used to be, well, not THIS.”
“What if I…”
“No what if anything. You either make your choice in the next fifteen minutes, or a choice will be made for you,” I told him, and slammed the lid back over the box.
I crawled back out from under the house into the sunlight, which was no cup of tea, believe me. I might spend time during the day outside, but the sunshine, especially after the darkness under a house, always comes as a shock. I pulled out my sunglasses put them on then took a deep breath and brushed off my pants. Filling Aaron and Austin in on the situation I told them that I’d let them decide what to do with Jasper and his friends.
The first thing now I had to go home and take a shower and scrub my skin off with steel wool, or at least that is how I was feeling. The image of Jasper’s eyes stuck in my brain like Poe’s Tell Tale Heart story.
“It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees – very gradually –I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.”
― Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings
His eyes will haunt me for sure. Maybe I’ll check on him in a few months’ time, out of morbid curiosity. That is, if the vampire hunters don’t get them first.
Like I said, Halloween is never far from my reality.
I called Clara back. She listened to my story. I didn’t make it into some cautionary tale or anything like that. We just talked. Then she told me that I was the most awesome mom ever.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman
TODAY’S GIVEWAY: Marla Todd is giving away Weirder Tales – An Omnibus Of Odd Ditties
Comment below or email email@example.com to be entered in the drawing!
Marla Todd aka Juliette Kings, is an artist, writer, museum docent, and mom living in Northern California. Since 2012 she has written the blog vampiremaman.com under the name Juliette Kings.
VampireMaman is an interesting hybrid of family and societal observations from the perspective of a mother who also happens to be a vampire. That Vampire Maman, aka Juliette, is a highly innovative and insightful writer with a gift for creating a fantasy world within a “real” world context. (From monkeybellhop.com).
Marla is a founding member of WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants), an independent publishing group made up of writers who collaborate on thematic anthologies to raise funds for MS research. To date, WPaD has published thirteen books. Almost all include a good amount of horror and the unexpected– even the holiday anthologies. More recent publications include: Goin’ Extinct Too (apocalyptic ~ 2020), Creepies 3: Nightmares on Deviant Street (horror ~ 2019), Tinsel Tales 2 (holiday ~ 2018), Weirder Tales (Unexpected – 2018), Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe (science fiction ~ 2017). Marla’s solo projects include Exceptional Liars (Suspense – 2020) and Morning At the Vineyard. Over 200 of Marla’s short stories are featured on Tangled Tales at Vampiremaman.com. Marla lives with her husband, a large German Shepard named Alice, and two extremely ungrateful cats. firstname.lastname@example.org
Excerpt from: Deviant Shadows: Tales of the ParAbnormal by WPaD (Writers, Poets, and
“He stole my heart,” she said.
I looked up at the pretty blonde woman in the pink silk blouse. She brushed back a pretty
curl that had fallen across her big blue eyes. I had no time for her kind.
“I don’t deal in love potions or revenge. If you’d like I know a few other Witches I could
recommend. They’re quite good.”
“You don’t understand, he literally stole my heart. I was supposed to have a transplant a
few days ago and the bastard stole my new heart.”
She opened the top few buttons of her shirt to reveal a long line of stitches. “I was on the
operating table, ready to have this pitiful damaged heart of mine removed, when the donor heart
vanished. It literally vanished out of thin air, right there in the hospital, in front of the doctors. He
said he’d steal my heart, but I never knew the bastard could actually be so ruthless.”
Then I noticed the oxygen tank she was wheeling behind her.
She pulled up a barstool and sat down next to me. “I know your rates are extremely high,
but so is your success rate. I want my heart back. Will you take the job?”
From The Price of Love featured in Deviant Shadows: Tales of the ParAbnormal by WPaD
(Writers, Poets, and Deviants)