Wednesday, January 23, 2013

FLASH FICTION FRIDAY, CYCLE 114: SURPRISE! SURPRISE!

The prompt this week was to be about planning a surprise party and then revealing the outcome for both the ‘surpris-ee’ and the ‘surpris-er’. I took a less-than-typical approach with the surprise party thing, but I think this is still in line with the prompt. Hope you enjoy.

A BIG SURPRISE

“I’m telling you, Rachel, he is one. I know it. All the signs are there and I am not imagining things. We’ve got one of them living right across the road from us, and we need to figure out what to do.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. A young man, probably in his mid-30s, moved into the house across the road from us this past Saturday morning, and my sister, Sarah, ever vigilant, is already suspicious of him. She is suspicious of anyone who moves into that property. Apparently, the house was built on some ancient burial ground and the house, as well as the entire property, is cursed for all eternity. According to Sarah, only creatures of some sort would dare cross the threshold and dwell within. She’s never told me where she obtained this information, but she firmly stands by it. Let’s see now, there have been werewolves, zombies, mummies, ghouls, and a couple of aliens, and our new neighbor certainly fits the bill because according to Sarah, he’s a vampire.

“Sarah, you really need to stop reading those magazines from the library and especially, stop talking to old Mrs. Mumford. To hear her tell it, she’s abducted weekly by Venusians, experimented on, and then brought back to her front door. Now, you don’t believe all that nonsense she puts out, do you?”

“Of course not. She’s just trying to draw attention to herself. But, Rachel, I’m not trying to do anything of the sort. I don’t go around telling everyone in town about that house. I only tell you so you make sure you stay away and don’t get too friendly with whoever moves in. Those spawns of Satan love to prey on single, elderly women like you and I and I just don’t want some fanged thing visiting me in my bed.”

It’s true we’re both unmarried and I’ll admit we’re both in our 60s, but I have a difficult time believing that creatures of the night would deliberately zero in on us. Considering all the late-night creature features I’ve watched, don’t the cloaked and fanged ones usually go after the 20-something, blue-eyed blondes who prance around at night in filmy negligees?

“Rachel, you don’t notice things like I do. I watch these creatures to see if I can identify which category they belong to. You have to do that, otherwise if they attack, you can’t defend yourself.”

“Sarah, we were born in this house and have lived here all our lives. When has anyone every been attacked in this whole town?”

“Just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it won’t. Getting back to this vampire we now have as a neighbor, I’ve been watching him closely and that’s how I figured him out. He never comes outside during the daytime because they don’t, you know. They sleep in a coffin, and only when the sun goes down do they awaken. I’ve seen him slip out at night just walking down the highway. Once he gets out of sight, he must turn into a bat and fly into the city to feed. That has to be it since there have been no reports of anyone being bitten in town.”

“Maybe the man works out of his home during the day, and maybe he has trouble sleeping, so he walks. Heaven knows, it’s safe enough here. He could walk for miles and not be bothered by anyone. Have you considered that?”

I don’t know why I bother. Sarah just shook her head and went back to the front window with her binoculars. Normally, I just ignore her ravings because the folks that moved in there were either couples or our age. But this young man? I’ll bet he’d be perfect for Susanna Mitchell, our new librarian. She’s his age, and single, but so shy. Pickings are pretty slim here for boyfriend material for young ladies and this fellow might be just what she needs. If I could just figure out a way to introduce myself to him. Wait. I’ve got it.

“Rachel, it was a brilliant idea to get him over here pretending to welcome him to the area. I‘ll be ready for that bloodsucker. He is going to get a big surprise.”

I had called and invited him to dinner to find out if he was married or attached in any way so I could fix him up with Suzanna. His name was Jonathan Wellesley (classy, huh?) and his voice was smooth as silk. He said he’d be delighted. Sarah promised to behave herself, but did tell me she had a vampire test for him. Oh goody.

When our doorbell rang, I opened the door and invited our guest in. Forgive an old lady, but he looked delicious. All decked out in a three-piece pin-striped suit, he reminded me of any one of the numerous movie stars I’d had crushes on in my youth. Startlingly blue eyes you could get lost in and a dazzling, warm and comfortable smile. After I shut the door however, Sarah came rushing in wearing a necklace of garlic cloves, holding a spray bottle filled with what she announced was water blessed by Father George in one hand and a sharp stick in the other. Understandably, our guest was taken aback.

“Perhaps I should come back another time?” He inched his way backward toward the front door.

“SARAH, STOP IT RIGHT NOW! Jonathan, I’m terribly sorry. My sister…”

“Stay right where you are, whatever you are. I command you to answer.” Sarah had really outdone herself this time. I made a mental note to call Dr. Hargrove first thing in the morning to discuss having her committed.

“Are you a vampire? Be assured evil one, I have the power of good in my heart and you shall be defeated.”

Jonathan took a deep breath, smiled at Sarah, and quietly said ‘no‘.

“Alright then,” Sarah said and put the garlic, bottle and stick in the front closet. “Let’s eat. Dinner’s ready.” Sarah took Jonathan’s hand in hers, and they headed for the dining room. I made a mental note to check with Dr. Hargrove about having myself committed.

“WAIT JUST A MINUTE!” This was too much. “All this time, he’s a vampire, he’s undead, he’s this and he’s that. Then, you ask him, he says ‘no’ and it’s over, let’s eat? Am I the only one who sees the craziness here?”

“Rachel, you don’t know about these things. Once you invite a vampire into your home, he has to tell the truth and you have to be ready to take him down. But, now we know Jonathan is one of us, so it’s alright.”

Dinner went well after I washed a couple of aspirin down with a highball. We parted company around eleven. Sarah went straight to bed and I stayed up to try to figure out where to go from here. I love my sister, but I can’t go on like this. I never know from one minute to the next how she’s going to act, or react, and it’s not harmless delusions anymore. I mean, she ran at our neighbor with a sharp stick. Maybe there’s some outpatient treatment she could…

What was that? It sounded like a gust of wind in the hallway. I’ve told Sarah to keep her window closed and locked at night. I started to get up to scold her when our new neighbor walked into my bedroom with blood dripping from his lips.

“Jonathan, what are you doing here? What have you done? Where’s my sister?”

“Your sister’s dead, and soon you shall be also. This town will feed me well and you two may as well be the first.” There was that smooth as silk voice again. But the fangs were new.

“This can’t be. When Sarah asked if you were a vampire, you said no. I thought you had to tell the truth if you were invited in.”

Jonathan began to laugh. “Where did she get her information--from the late show? If you invite a vampire into your home, the only thing that accomplishes is that it grants him access at his discretion.”

As he moved toward me, I realized that Sarah and I were the ones who got the big surprise…

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