Okay, yes, it has been forever and ten days since I last blogged. I don’t really have any excuses, except life. BUT I have come back with gifts. It’s Friday, 13th and folks that have followed me some time know this day is near and dear to my heart because I was born on a Friday, 13th. So basically, it’s like my birthday. BUT what makes this day extra special is it is in October, and we all know how much I love October because of the BEST holiday ever, HALLOWEEN!
Anyhoo, so me coming back to dust off the blog today isn’t about how long I’ve been away, but how excited everyone is that I’m back and come bearing treats. Do you remember way back when, in a time long, long, ago, I released two shorts of creeptastic stories for Halloween? It’s okay if you don’t because I can barely remember what I’ve had for breakfast. Well, those shorts are no longer published, but they still linger in the back of my mind on occasion, and I vacillate between letting them rest in peace, or resurrecting them for folks to stare and gawk with wonder.
I still haven’t made up my mind, but at one point I decided I wanted to write sequels for some of my favorites, and dear reader you get an exclusive (so fancy) peek at one of those sequels. The original story was Oh, Baby (if you can’t remember it, boy are you in for a surprise), and the follow up is Baby’s Daddy (because I’m just so clever, right?!).
May this 13th of Friday bring you joy, luck, and some tasty adult libations (or whatever your treat of choice is).
*These shorts are copyrighted by moi and not professionally edited. Let’s remember to enjoy them in the spirit in which they were given when you come across grammatical errors.
Tera stumbled over a toy Baby had left absently in the hallway. Chuckling, she picked up the plush stuffed rabbit and smiled to herself. She couldn’t help thinking about how Baby had changed her life in so many ways. Tera had never been a pet person. The thought of all that fur and filth made her cringe. The constant barrage of caring for something so helpless and dependent made her anxious. But Baby was so different, and her life had never been better.
Placing the toy on top of one of the many moving boxes cluttering her new house, she thought about all of the errands she had to run. Moving to a tiny town along the central coast of California had never been on her agenda. A big city girl born and bred, there was no way she would have lived anywhere else, until Baby came into her life. Now she’d picked up and moved out so he could have the space he needed to thrive. Standing in the tiny kitchen of her new home, she sighed with frustration. Trash littered the floor.
Shaking her head, she looked at the mess he’d made. She couldn’t put the entire fault on him. The trash should have been taken out last night, but she’d been exhausted after their long walk. Those walks were both a blessing and a curse for her: exercise she desperately needed, but boy was she tired after each excursion. Quickly picking up the rubbish, she thought about the other tasks that awaited her. She was going to have to get Baby settled before she headed into town. The remote location of the new house was perfect for him to run around without her worrying about him disturbing neighbors. Or neighbors being disturbed by him. She frowned at the memory of old lady Parkins. The busybody had been a thorn in her side when she’d first found Baby. She had a million cats; it wasn’t as if Baby could be blamed for the disappearance of a few. Rubbing her hand against her temple, trying to ease the tension headache threatening to form as she thought of the unpleasantness that woman caused, Tera promised herself she wasn’t going to let it get her upset.
Startled by the loud noise against her front door, Tera clutched her chest. The sound of light scratching against the wood caused her nerves to settle and a smile to tug against her lips. Baby was back from exploring and must have brought her a “present.” The first time she’d gotten one of his gifts, she’d freaked out. She knew predatory pets liked to bring trinkets to their keepers to illustrate their prowess at hunting and usefulness, but it still caused a bit of a shock. The worst part was how sullen Baby had become from her reaction. He’d hidden himself away for the night in the farthest corner of her bedroom closet and wouldn’t come out until she’d dug his gift out of the trash and cooed and complimented him over it. Chuckling as she walked to the front door, she prepped herself for what she might see.
Tera winced as the front door let out a metallic groan. Something else she was going to have to add to the list, she thought. When she saw the object sitting on the worn Welcome mat that came with the house, it took her a while to recognize what it had been. Flesh, bloody and torn, with tuffs of hair matted and gnarled, didn’t immediately cause her brain to call up an image. She lowered herself into a crouching position and gingerly pushed on the ball of mangled meat and shook her head as recognition dawned. Tera peered at the remains of a human head. The features were too torn for her to distinguish much else. The tension headache she’d fought so valiantly against earlier flared into a beating drum in her head. This was not good, not good at all. She was going to have to look at the books she’d gotten on obedience training. It was so hard utilizing those books because there was no pet quite like her Baby.
The sound of rustling pulled her away from her gruesome gift, and she watched as Baby unfolded himself from the shadows. She was always amazed at how good he was at doing that with such a large frame. Crouched low on his hind legs, he clasped his talon hands over his leathery belly. Since she’d found him, Tera had been in a constant state of anxiety that he’d be spotted. That bitch Perkins didn’t help either with all her poking about. She would never regret letting Baby “go off his leash” that one time.
“Baby, come,” she commanded in a stern voice.
When he cowered and bowed his reptilian-shaped head and peeked up at her with his amber-colored eyes, she almost wavered. It broke her heart to see him so cowed, but she knew he had to learn what was okay and what wasn’t.
“Baby, come here,” she snapped with more authority.
Still crouched low, he shuffled toward her, with his tail tucked between his hind legs. The spikes that ran along his spindly spine were flattened and his usually vibrantly teal scales was dull and muted. Baby was a magnificent creature, but she couldn’t let his beauty and sweet nature sway her when he misbehaved.
“Baby, no.” She pointed at the dismembered head at her feet.
He snuffled out a low whine at the sound of her voice. Dragging his claw in front of his offering, he looked up at her, his usually slit-shaped eyes wide and hopeful, and bared his teeth and clicked his tongue against his serrated teeth.
“No. Bad.” She kept her tone stern as she pointed at the bloody head.
Cowering his large head, he whined and hunched in on himself. Tera felt as if her heart was breaking. The books warned against inconsistent training, but she wavered daily because, what would a dog trainer know about her Baby?
“Baby, Momma isn’t mad at you, but no hunting humans unless I say okay.” She gently petted his head; running her fingers along the hard ridges on top, she dug into the spot she knew he loved having massaged.
When he gently wrapped his whip-thin tail around her wrist, drawing her closer so he could nestle against her stomach, her heart melted. She knew she spoiled him, but he was her first pet, and hopefully time would make her better at setting rules.
“Oh, Baby,” she sighed softly, gently rubbing his head.
Tera sniffled and used the back of her sudsy hand to wipe away the tears she’d lost the ability to control. It was over. There was no getting around it. Once Manu got back from his trip he was not only going to be furious, he was going to dump her. She choked back a sob as she poured water over Tchotchke’s trembling head.
“How can you have so much blood in your fur,” she groaned, using a small grooming comb Manu swore was best for the Yorkie.
The pint-sized ball of energy didn’t answer of course, but instead looked up at her with sullen brown eyes as he swiped his tongue across his nose. Tera was thankful he hadn’t put up much of a fight when she’d hauled him into the baby bathtub Manu used for his baths. Thoughts of Manu’s care for the little dog caused a pang of regret to reverberate through her body and she sniffled away another onslaught of tears.
She startled when something nudged her shoulder. Tera had been so lost in her thoughts, she’d forgotten the other culprit in the current debacle she found herself in. Baby of course, and boy had he really done it.
“Momma is very angry with you right now, Baby. Go back to your bed,” she stated firmly.
Baby whined and trailed one of his talons next to where she crouched, his usual way of trying to get her attention. She couldn’t look at him though. He’d been very naughty and now everything great Tera had planned for their future was slipping away as quickly as the suds on Tchotchke’s fur.
“No, you were very naughty, Baby. Go to your bed, now!” She added more bite to her command and Baby whined once again before shuffling to his bed.
Tera was shocked when Tchotchke growled and nipped at one of her fingers. She released the little dog quickly and yelped with surprise. He could be a high strung at times, but he’d never been aggressive toward her. She’d actually always found him a endearing.
She’d been wary of having a dog most of her life. They seemed to require a great deal of energy and care. Actually, she’d extended that belief to owning a pet in general, but once she’d found Baby her worldview had shifted. But it had only been a world big enough to love one special creature. After meeting Manu, the feisty little Yorkie Tchotchke had found a special place in her heart and Tera ached at the thought she’d be losing him too.
Tchotchke barked sharply at her when she went to reach for him and wiggled from her slippery hands as she tried to get him to be still. Quick as lightening, he leapt from his bath and scurried over to where Baby sat sullenly on his own bed. If she weren’t so distressed by the events of the night, Tera probably would have laughed.
“Oh, so now you’re best friends.” She scowled as she stood, resting her wet hands on her hips.
Considering she was partially soaked from the bath she’d given Baby prior to Tchotchke, it didn’t make much of a difference.
The two pets just stared back at her of course. Baby resting his reptilian shaped head on the backs of his claw shaped hands, the spikes that ran along his spindly spine flattened, and the usually iridescent teal color of his scales dull and muted. Tchotchke made an imperious sounding snort before shaking furiously, spraying water everywhere. Baby chuffed with annoyance but didn’t move as his wet little partner in crime snuggled close to him. It was the type of image she’d hoped would eventually happen once Manu started living with her. She pressed a fist to her chest to help alleviate some of the ache that had settled there.
It hadn’t been an easy transition moving in together, mostly because Tchotchke had gone out of his way to terrorize Baby. When they’d begun dating, Tchotchke had been reluctant to warm up to Tera. Manu blamed himself for the Yorkie’s behavior. When he’d gone to the local shelter to find a dog, he’d been considering a larger mix breed, but Tchotchke had run up to the gate and made it known he’d be going home with Manu instead. Once he’d heard how the little powerhouse had escaped from a puppy mill, Manu knew he was special. It was that story, along with many others that had confirmed the brilliant scientist was the man for her.
Since taking Baby in, Tera had only dated periodically. She’d moved to the Central Coast of California to ensure her special pet would have the space and privacy he needed to thrive. Tera loved her little house in Morro Bay, because it sat just inland enough from the usual waterfront area the town was known for, allowing for the space Baby needed, but didn’t make her feel isolated.
Everything was perfect, even the occasional dates she went on. Although she never took them further than dinner and a movie. Tera couldn’t risk bringing just anyone into Baby’s life.
“Dammit,” she snapped, fear and regret making her feel hopeless.
Manu was more than just “anyone”.
It was pure happenstance that brought them together one rainy day. She’d gotten a flat and while parked on the side of the rode inspecting it, a car pulled up behind her. Tera tensed, suddenly feeling vulnerable on the deserted stretch of highway in the pouring rain. Her community wasn’t a bustling hub of crime activity, but being a woman on her own for so long she’d learned to be cautious. When a tall lanky man stepped out of the car she held her breath as he approached.
The deep hood of his waterproof windbreaker hid most of his face as he sprinted toward her and she tried to angle her head so she could see more of him. He stopped, inspecting her flat tire. When he lifted the hood of his windbreaker back and smiled at her, Tera was instantly hit with an electrical pulse of awareness.
“Do you need some help?” he’d asked.
His words were accented, with a lush rhythmical quality that made her want to sit and listen to him speak for hours. While his dark eyes radiated warm and kindness. Something she hadn’t realized she needed so desperately until that moment. In her memory she couldn’t recall noticing the symmetry of his features she now loved so dear, because at that time when she needed help, it was his calm reserve she’d latched on to most.
Cupid’s arrow had found it’s point and she’d been struck instantly. To her amazement so had he, and within a few short months they’d been inseparable. When she’d finally gotten up the courage to tell him about Baby, she couldn’t have hoped for a better response.
“Gorgeous, simply gorgeous,” he’d whispered in awe.
It was Manu’s influence that had made caring for Baby easier. Baby had taken to Manu from their first meeting, and followed him around loyally when they went on their extended walks. Manu had also developed a training regime for Baby that helped reduce some of his predatory tendencies, making caring for him more manageable. Moving in together had been the natural next step, and the last six months had been the best in her life. Even with the bumpy road of trying to co-habit Tchotchke and Baby.
Tera’s eyes scanned the mudroom, where the splatter of blood and grime painted the perfect picture of her relationships demise. She refused to let her gaze linger on the bloody clump of bits of flesh, bone, and fabric.
“Tchotchke be good and let me towel you off,” she snatched up the plush towel she’d brought down for the task and knelt down where the little dog was snuggled next to Baby.
Her fingers trembled as she ruffled the Yorkie’s fur, hoping to mop up as much water as she could. He hated when they used the hair dryer, and considering the rest of the cleanup she needed to do, wrangling a pint-sized ball of stubbornness was not a top priority.
“Be still,” she muttered, rubbing at Tchotchke’s belly.
Tera froze instantly when Baby raised his head and stared fixedly toward the front of the house. His amber colored eyes reflected light as his lids retracted and expanded. Baby made a low keening noise before his entire body began to wiggle. She knew what that meant, even before Tchotchke wiggled from between her hands and out of the towel; Manu was home. She scrambled to her feet, inspecting the room, anxiety like a great beast pressed on her chest. He was too early, she moaned and pulled at her damp shirt.
“Lucy, I’m home,” Manu called from the front of the house and she felt her heart seize.
The tears she’d been trying to control leaked more rapidly from her eyes. When Manu made his way to the back of the house she was sobbing full on.
“Tera, love, what’s the matter?”
She only got a brief glimpse of him before she was enveloped in his firm embrace. Her body shook with the force of her tears, and she could only cry harder as he stroked his hand through her tangled curls, and murmured words she couldn’t understand but soothed her all the same.
“Now, darling, what is the matter?” he asked, pulling her back and cupping her face in his hands.
Before she could respond, Tchotchke scampered over to the “present” Baby had brought her and barked rapidly in excitement. She tensed when Manu’s brow furrowed as he focused on the lump in the corner.
“Oh, dear,” he said softly, and Tera felt her heart sink.
She glanced quickly at Baby, and her precious pet looked as miserable as she felt.
“I don’t know how they got out.” She stated in a rush. “I’d gone to the market and set up the crates you’d built, but when I came home they gotten out of them and the house.” Her words rushed forward, tripping over themselves as her anxiety controlled the dexterity of her tongue.
“I see,” Manu said, releasing her and walking toward the crates he’d customized for Baby and Tchotchke. Inspecting them carefully.
She rubbed her hands over her arms, feeling suddenly chilled without the heat of Manu near her. He didn’t speak as he toggled the latch that held the door of one of the crates closed. Tera bit her tongue and stood silently as he finished with the crate, and walked toward the back door and the window next to it. Tchotchke ran back to Baby once he realized Manu’s attention wasn’t going to be on him.
“Well, it seems they’ve finally become buddies.” Manu tilted his head towards their two pets with a sardonic smile.
“It’s human,” she blurted out, waving her hand toward the lump of flesh and bone.
“Well, I’m quite sure of that, my dear,” he replied, far too calmly.
“I swear, Manu, this is the first time in ages. Baby has been so good for so long. I don’t know why he’d do something like this.”
Her stomach clenched when Manu looked over at a cowering Baby. Tchotchke wasn’t fazed by his Papa’s gaze. Instead he wagged his stubby tail and yipped with excitement.
“Oh, I don’t think Baby is wholly to blame here.”
She gasped, shrinking further under the weight of his recrimination. Tera should have known better than to leave Baby unsupervised. He’d been doing so well though, for so long. He hadn’t brought her one of those kinds of presents in ages. Tears welled in her eyes at what she knew was coming next. It was only natural of course. She’d told Manu about Baby’s tendencies in the past, but when confronted with the carnage of his human prey, she couldn’t expect Manu to understand Baby like she did.
“Darling, no, I’m not talking about you,” Manu exclaimed, rushing over to fold her in his arms once again.
Tera pressed her face to his chest, feeling slightly hopeful, but not ready to let go of the sickening doubt that clung to her.
“I’m talking about Tchotchke. It seems the little escape artist has found a much bigger and more dexterous accomplice.” Manu ran a hand through his dark wavy hair, and scowled with concentration. “I was concerned about this, particularly with Tchotchke’s dominant tendencies, and Baby’s need to please.” He sighed, pecking a kiss on the tip of her nose.
She blinked in confusion as he walked over and patted both Tchotchke and Baby on the head. “Well you two have certainly had quite the adventure.” He chuckled as both pets preened under his attention.
“We’ll clean this up and have them lead us back to where I’m sure they’ve buried the rest of the remains.” Manu said, rising and clapping his hands.
“Clean up?” She asked, utterly flabbergasted.
“Oh, poor darling, you’ve already had the brunt of it. Why don’t you shower and change and I’ll handle things in here.”
“But…Baby…and…” She waved her hand toward the mangled clump of flesh and bone.
Baby and Tchotchke watched them both, mirror expressions of concentration on their faces. Once again, if she weren’t on the verge of a collapse she would have found the sudden solidarity of the two vastly different pets amusing.
Manu clicked his tongue on his teeth and gave her a shrug.
“Accidents happen with pets, darling. It’s not as if Baby has gone on a rampage. He’s made a mistake, and we’ll work together on correcting his behavior. Particularly, what I’m sure is a far too easy capitulation to Tchotchke’s influence.”
The Yorkie chose that moment to yip excitedly and tug at Baby’s whip thin tail. Baby clicked his tongue on his serrated teeth and nudged Tchotchke with his reptilian head. The little dog’s body vibrated with energy as he chased Baby’s tail. Manu chuckled at their antics before gathering up the soiled towels she’d discarded on the ground.
“Those two,” he snorted, “And you were worried they wouldn’t get along,” his accented words shaded with humor and affection soothed the last of her fears.
Tera took a deep breath and smiled at the man she loved and the little creatures that had stolen their hearts. That was until Baby made a retching sound, and promptly threw up a slimy glob of hair and skin.
“Oh, Baby,” she sighed, and new she’d be cleaning up vomit all night.