This is my favorite time of year, and I love sharing it with all of you! What better way than a spooky blog hop, right?
If we’ve never met before, I’m Lisa Kessler, and I write dark paranormal romance. Before I got my novels published, I used to write horror short stories and sell them to magazines and anthologies. A short scare is definitely my first love! J So I thought I’d share one with you, and after the story, I’ve got some treats too! 😀
So come closer… I’ve got a story for you….
The Storyteller – By Lisa Kessler
Jed hobbled off the bus, leaning heavily on his gnarled walking stick. He tugged on the brim of his well-worn leather hat, and shifted the weight of his knapsack on his shoulder as he made his way out of the bus station. The trip up to Canada had been fruitful, but there was definitely no place like home.
His grandson’s Jeep was nowhere to be seen, so the old man sighed and decided to settle on a bench to wait. A young woman toting a little boy on her hip approached with a tentative smile.
“Do you mind if we share the bench with you?”
“Course not,” the old man replied with a warm smile.
“Thank you.” She sat down and peeled off her little boy who sat on the other side of her. She finally turned back toward Jed. “So are you coming home, or just stopping in for a visit?”
“Oh I’m back home for a few weeks before it’s time to travel again. How about you?”
“We’re here to see my sister for a few days–”
“Auntie Rita!” The little boy corrected.
She nodded mussing his blond hair a little. “That’s right, Auntie Rita.” She looked at Jed with a grin. “So you travel a lot?”
“Wherever I’m needed,” he replied.
“Are you a doctor or something?”
He laughed and shook his head. “No Ma’am nothing so distinguished. I’m a storyteller.”
She raised a brow. “A storyteller?” Was she scooting away from him? He couldn’t be sure. “You make a living at that?”
“Most of the time,” he said. “Results may vary from time to time, but I don’t starve. I’m just getting home from a trip to Canada to collect stories.”
“You collect them?”
He nodded. “Yes Ma’am. Some of the best stories are never written down. They’re kept alive through the telling, so if no one collects them and shares them again, the stories die.”
“So you’re like a doctor for stories,” the boy chimed in.
Jed grinned down at the little boy who was now standing in front of him, clinging to his mother’s knees. “I guess you could say that.”
“Tell me a story.” He added with a sheepish smile, “Please?”
Jed glanced up at his mother for her consent.
“You don’t have to,” she said.
“Oh it’s no bother,” Jed said and looked down at the little boy. “So what’s your name?”
“Nathan,” he replied.
“What kind of story do you want to hear?”
“Ummm…” His eyes sparkled with a mischievous gleam and Jed knew what he was going to say before he spoke a word. “A spooky story!”
His Mom rolled her eyes and chuckled. “Nothing too scary.”
Jed winked at Nathan and rubbed his palm together. “Spooky is my specialty. Have you ever heard the story of the little vampire?”
The boy shook his head.
“All right then, I’ll share it with you. Little vampires are very rare, so this vampire was lonely. He could only play at night, and the other kids were all inside after the sun went down. His only friend was his dog, Buddy.”
“What kind of dog was he?” Nathan asked.
Jed grinned. “Vampires only like one kind of dog.”
“Yep. Blood hounds!”
Nathan’s mother chuckled in spite of herself and groaned.
Nathan looked up at her. “What’s so funny, Mommy?”
She shook her head. “Just listen Nathan, don’t interrupt the story.”
Jed started in again, regaling the boy with a fun tale of the child vampire and his dog. It was one of his favorite stories for kids under five. Not really scary at all, but the little ones thought it was spooky because the main character was a vampire. Just as Jed finished up the story, his grandson’s Jeep pulled in.
“That’s my ride.”
“Thanks for the story!” Nathan said.
“Yes thank you,” his mother added. “You’re a very good storyteller.”
He tipped his hat and slowly straightened until he was standing. “Always love to share a good story. Thank you both for listening.”
“Hey Grandpa! Sorry I’m late.” Jason said as he reached for Jed’s knapsack and carried it back to the Jeep. Jed bent down and placed a hand on little Nathan’s shoulder.
“Boy, it’s your job to share that story with others. This is very important. Don’t let that story die. You keep it alive by telling it again, all right?”
Nathan gave him a solemn nod. “Yessir.”
Smiling, Jed gave his shoulder a squeeze and nodded toward his mother. “You’ve got a fine boy here.”
Jed hobbled to the Jeep and carefully gripped the handle to pull himself up into the seat. His grandson Jason was already behind the wheel, starting the engine.
“How was the trip, Grandpa?”
“I collected five new stories from Nova Scotia, and shared some Montana cowboy tales with five different library systems.”
“That’s great,” Jason replied.
Jed looked over at his grandson. Jason was twenty-one now, but he still had the gangly limbs of a fifteen year old. He was a good-hearted young man, with bright blue eyes and a smile that could light up a room.
But tonight his grandson wasn’t smiling. In fact, Jed frowned; Jason was gripping the wheel so hard that the muscles all the way up his arms were tight. A bead of sweat rolled down from his hairline, along his cheek.
“Are you all right, Jason?”
Jason glanced over at him, and nodded. “Yeah I’m fine.”
Jed noticed his eyes looked haunted, or worse. Jason looked… Terrified. He reached over to place a hand on his shoulder. His grandson flinched, swerving on the road.
“You don’t seem fine to me,” Jed said.
Jason shrugged without taking his eyes off the road. “I saw something on my way over to pick you up. I guess I might be shaken up a little, but it’s nothing.”
“What did you see?”
“I thought I saw Llorona went I came over the bridge tonight. It sounds stupid to say it out loud.” He offered Jed a weak attempt at a smile before turning back to the road. “I’m fine, really.”
The color drained from Jed’s face. Stories of Llorona had been recorded all over North and South America since the 1500’s. Although the details of her story often changed, the root of the tale remained the same. She killed her own children and had been weeping for them ever since. The sight of her was beyond unlucky.
Seeing her at night was perceived as an omen of death.
“It’s just a story Grandpa.”
“I taught you better than that.” Jed looked over at Jason. “In the heart of every story is a nugget of truth. That’s why it’s so important to preserve the stories. You know that.”
“Yeah, well I saw a woman in white weeping at the edge of the water. That’s it. I don’t know if it was really Llorona or not. It just spooked me a little, that’s all.”
Jed let it go for the moment and stared straight ahead. Fog was rolling in thick, and Jason had to slow a bit. A chill shot down Jed’s spine when he saw the shape of a person ahead. The tall gaunt man jutted out his thumb, but Jason didn’t slow. Jed glanced in the side mirror as they passed.
The man had vanished.
He peered over at Jason, wondering if he had seen the vanishing hitchhiker too, but he didn’t ask. He was tired, and unsettled with all the talk of seeing Llorona. His imagination was probably getting the best of him.
He hoped that was it.
Uncomfortable silence embraced them for the rest of the drive. Jason pulled into Jed’s driveway and helped him with his bag.
Jed nodded and gave Jason a tight embrace. “Thanks for the ride. Be careful on the drive home.”
“I will. See you tomorrow!”
Jed watched him leave the driveway before he turned to open his front door. He stepped inside, leaned his walking stick against the wall, and hung his hat on the rack. It was definitely good to be home again.
He made his way down the entry hall to the light switch. Moonlight lit the dense fog outside giving it a muted glow. In the faint lighting, he caught a woman’s reflection in the mirror and gasped, wiping at his eyes.
She was still there, shadowed, staring right at him.
The wind moaned outside, screeching through the aging window sills.
“It can’t be…” He stopped himself from repeating her name.
According to legend, saying her name to a darkened mirror three times would trap you inside of the glass with her. He reached out with a trembling finger and flipped the wall switch. Light flooded the hallway, revealing his face alone in the mirror.
Jed’s heart fluttered in his chest, and he let out a nervous laugh. He could hear the panic in the echo through the empty house.
Shaking his head, he shuffled toward the kitchen. A shot of whiskey, and a few hours of uninterrupted sleep would fix him right up. The bottleneck clinked against the shot glass as he poured it with a trembling hand.
Tossing back the whiskey, he grimaced, welcoming the warmth as it spread through in his gut. The tremors in his hands calmed slightly, and he poured one more shot. He lifted the glass to his lips when he heard it.
The glass shattered against the tile floor.
Jed slipped in the spilled whiskey, and struggled to keep his balance and avoid the shards of glass as he made his way back out to the hall closet. His old shotgun was right where he left it, propped against all the coats in the hall closet. He snatched it up and pumped a cartridge into the chamber.
“Who’s there?” He called out.
Only the wind answered with a howl that made his old house groan in reply. Jed kept the shotgun up at the ready. He spun toward the living room when he heard a noise by the window.
Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeech. Tap. Scratch. Tap. Screeeeeeeeeeeech.
The hair on his forearms stood on end. Silently, he approached the window and pushed the drapes back with the barrel of his shotgun. Terror rose like bile up the back of his throat.
But nothing was out there.
He let out a sigh of relief.
Suddenly the front door burst open. Jed didn’t hesitate. He twisted toward the door and fired off a single deafening shot.
Jason fell to the floor.
Jed’s eyes widened. He dropped the shotgun and rushed to his grandson’s side. “Dear God what have I done? Jason! Stay with me boy…”
He reached out to grasp his grandson’s hand. It was ice cold. Jed wiped his tears and started searching for a pulse. Instead he found a hook lodged deep in Jason’s back.
Jed jumped with a gasp, waking to find himself still in his seat on the Greyhound bus. He hadn’t gotten home yet. He wiped his eyes, taking a deep breath in an attempt to slow his racing pulse. Just a dream.
Or was it?
“At the heart of every story is a nugget of truth,” he thought to himself. “This wasn’t just a dream. It was a warning.”
He dug in his pocket for his cell phone and called Jason to let him know he would grab a cab at the bus station. Jason fought him on it, but eventually gave his consent.
“Just stay inside tonight, all right? Do your old Grandpa this one favor.”
“You’re not making any sense. Are you sure you’re all right?” Jason asked.
“I will be if you stay inside. Don’t be on the roads tonight, okay?”
“Fine Grandpa, but call me when you get home so I know you got back safe.”
“Will do, Jason. I love you Boy.”
“Love you too, Grandpa.”
Jed closed his cell phone and slid it into his pocket. Even if it was a dream, this way he could be sure Jason wouldn’t see Llorona at the bridge tonight.
No harm in being careful.
He settled back in his chair, trying to relax, when Nathan, the little blond boy he met in his dream, walked down the aisle. The boy stopped and looked up at Jed with a smile and a spark of recognition in his eyes.
Could he possibly remember him? How could he know?
“Will you tell me a story?” The boy asked.
Jed’s old heart stuttered a little, but he nodded at the boy with a chuckle, “Oh boy, do I ever have a story for you…”
Thanks for Hopping through my blog!!!
Ready for some tricks and treats??? I have some prizes below, and be sure to enter the google doc for a chance to win:
(1) $100 Amazon or B&N Gift Card or
(1) $50 Amazon or B&N Gift Card or
(1) $50 Amazon or B&N Gift Card or
(1) $50 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
Thanks so much for coming by!!! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!