Vilhelm the Vargr

wolf2b_smAs of today, my story “Vilhelm the Vargr” has been published by Alban Lake Publishing and is for sale on their Digitally Disturbed page!

You can find it here:
https://www.infiniterealmsbookstore.com/product-page/vilhelm-the-vargr-by-richard-d-mellinger

Vilhelm lives in a village where people turn into wolves for 4 years on their 18th birthdays. It is years after he returned to human form and he is laying his wife to rest when he hears wolves howling in the distance. They are no ordinary wolves, though — they are vargr.

Vilhelm the Vargr is about 7500 words. It is a bit darker and signigicantly more serious in tone than most of the work that I have posted on my blog in the past, butI like it.

Oh! and I also drew that cover. 😀

Check it out if you’re interested!
https://www.infiniterealmsbookstore.com/digitally-disturbed

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Grampy’s Tale

I haven’t posted a story on here in a while, but given the nature of this one, I decided to share it as a Halloween treat. Happy Halloween, everyone!

I’d like to thank those that offered their expertise when I asked for it on Facebook, particularly Molly and Brett who even went so far as to take the time to read the resulting story before posting. Without your insight, experience, and knowledge, I fear this story would have fallen flat. Thank you.


GrampysTale

The telltale signs of autumn covered the ground in a thick mat of oranges, reds, and browns. Grampy took a deep breath and let it out, savoring the musty smell of wet leaves on the crisp, post-rain air. The kids ran around in his back yard, excited about something or other. He was content to just take a seat on his favorite log by the cold fire pit and watch them, but recalled his daughter’s insistence that he actually spend some time with them.

“Hey, boys,” he said, waving them over, “Why don’t you come on over here and have a seat?”

Both came over silently and they sat side by side on the log opposite him: obedient but not thrilled.

“What are you two doing over there?”

“Collecting acorns,” the older one said, his little brother nodding.

He looked at them hard for a moment then furrowed his brow and asked “What’s an eggcorn?”

“Grampy!” the older one said exasperated, “I said ‘acorns.’”

“Oh,” he said with a grin, shooting the younger kid a wink, “and what do you want with them acorns? Practicing to become a squirrel?”

The two boys giggled, but the older one said, “no.”

“What then? Just start’n a collection?”

The two boys looked at each other and an unspoken word that was obviously grounded in mischief passed between them, then the older on said, “for a project.”

“Ah,” Grampy said, nodding as if that cleared it up, “and which project might that be? Your ma say’s you’ve been playing T-ball, though I don’t see how a pile of acorns fits with that.”

“It’s for birds,” the younger one said, avoiding the irritated glare of his older brother.

“To feed ’em?”

“No.” Whether it was for breaking under the old man’s interrogation and betraying his bond of silence with his brother, or because he knew what he was about to confess was wrong remained to be seen, but it was clear that he was very ashamed. He fidgeted in his seat and stared at his hands. “For the slingshot.”

“Ah,” Grampy said, nodding, “I see now. Why don’t we leave that for a while.”

“Are we going to make a fire?” the older boy asked, his eyes on the fire pit, all too eager to change the subject.

“I mean,” Grampy said, his brow furrowed again, “I reckon we could put one together, but what’d you want it to say? Your cat run off?”

The boy sighed and rolled his eyes, “Fires can’t talk.”

“Ohhh,” Grampy said, grinning, “you said ‘fire.’ Thought it was weird that you’d want to make a flyer.”

“What’s a flyer?” asked the younger boy.

“It’s like a sign you make to hand out to people or put up around the neighborhood. Ever see a lost dog poster, or a piece of paper talking about a yard sale?”

Both boys nodded in unison.

“One of those.”

There was a quiet moment as they all stared into the empty fire pit, then the older boy shattered it with “So, are we going to make a FIRE?” he almost yelled the last word like an idiot trying to talk to someone that doesn’t speak English.

“No,” Grampy replied, “wood’s all wet and we only have a little while before your ma comes back to get ya.”

The kid grunted, but didn’t give any other indication that he’d been spoken to.

“Mom says you’re full of stories,” the smaller boy said.

Grampy grinned; that’s probably not how she’d worded it, and he was pretty sure that’s not what she thought he was full of, but he nodded. He’d been known to spin a yarn or two.

“Can you tell us a story?”

“Sure,” he said, rubbing his hands together, “what sort of story you wanna hear?”

The younger boy opened his mouth to speak, but the older one yelled right over him, “A ghost story!”

Grampy furrowed his brow a bit and looked down at the empty fire pit, then back up at the boy.

“Are you sure that’s what you want?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, I probably know one or two of those.” He again looked to the fire pit and rubbed his hands together, then started in. “Your Gramy and I, God rest her soul, used to live up north of here a ways. This was back before your ma or your uncle were born. We had a little dairy farm. Goats. Bought it from a fellow my pa knew on the cheap and took it over.

“Tried for a few years to turn a profit from it, but ended up selling for about the same I paid for it and, as I’m sure you know, we moved back down here and I started working in my pa’s car dealership instead.”

He looked at the boys. The younger one nodded, he knew that Grampy sold cars when his ma was a girl, but the older boy didn’t respond.

“During the time in question we musta had about 80 lamancha and it would have been fall because it was breeding season but there was no snow on-”

“What’s breeding season?” the younger brother asked.

“It’s, well… how much has your ma told you about where baby animals come from?”

The older one spoke up then. “Oh, is this the ‘when a man and a woman love each other very much’ thing?”

“Yes. Like that. But with goats, they don’t have to love each other. They just need to be able to reach each other when the time’s right. Does that make sense?” He looked at them each in turn, while nodding and they nodded back, obviously pretending to understand. He didn’t push the issue; they’d learn about all that soon enough and it should be someone else that had to explain it to them.

“Anyway, it was fall and the goats were extra noisy-”

“Why were they noisy in the fall?” interrupted the younger boy.

“Is it because of all the breeding?” asked the older one, looking alarmed.

“It’s because when they want to breed but aren’t able too, because the billies and the nannies are kept apart, they start bleating all the time. Yelling at each other, yelling at me, yelling at your Gramy. Horrible creatures that time of year, really. Especially the billies. Dear Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, billies are a horrible, nasty lot of monsters.”

The older boy nudged the younger one with his elbow. “Hear that, Billy? You’re a horrible, nasty-”

“Shut up, Buck.” He looked suddenly to be on the edge of angry tears.

“Now, now boys,” Grampy said, “let’s be nice. There are multiple meanings to ALL our names. In fact, Buck, you’re named after me, so I know all the dirt on that name, but I’ll save you the torment and keep it to myself if you can be nice to your brother.” He looked hard at the older boy until the boy nodded.

“Good. Now what was I- Oh, yeah. So the nannies are sorta yelling all the time and one gets used to that sort of racket, and I could sleep through damn near anything. Now, I tell you this so you know what level of ungodly racket they must have been causing that night when they woke me up. Every single one of em musta been hollar’n as loud as they could. It was so much racket that the windows were rattling in their frames and I thought for sure the end times had come and that I better start say’n my prayers.”

The boys were captivated now, staring at the old man, eyes wide.

“So as I’m pulling on my pants, your Gramy, she jumps up and starts doing the same. Of course, I don’t know what I’m about to run in to, so I yell ‘No, you watch from the window, that way if something goes wrong you can call fer help.’

“Well, out the door I go, grabb’n that old shotgun on my way. ‘Goats!’ I’m yell’n, ‘What ya see?’ and, of course, your Gramy followed me.”

“I get out to the nanny’s pen and they’re all out of their shed and running around hollar’n, but appear to be focused on the billy pen. Now, the billy pen was much further away from the house, on account of them stinking and the fact that it could ruin the milk, for reasons I’ve already said. So it’s all the way on the other side of the property.

“I tell you what, never in my life did I wish those stinky bastards were closer as I did when sprinting over there, listening to them screaming. As I got closer I could see something laying motionless on the ground outside in the pen and hear a scuffle going on inside the shed. Closer still and I start hearing this vicious growl among the desperate braying of the billies.

“I get up close, yelling ‘Get outta there!’ and as I turn the corner to be able to see into the shed, what do you think I find?”

Both boys shook their heads in silent shock.

“Go ahead,” Grampy instructed, “take a guess.”

“A monster?” asked the younger one.

“Had to have been a werewolf,” said the older boy.

“You’re part right. It was a wolf.”

“I had two shells in the shotgun and I fired one off into the air, then pointed the gun at the beast, but he didn’t need to be told twice. He took off, bounding over the fence like it was nothing, leaving behind three dead billies. One outside, two in the shed.

“What do you think of that?”

“Wow,” said the younger boy.

“Wait. So there was no monster or ghost, it was just a regular old wolf?” the older boy demanded.

“Not sure why you expected monsters. You know there’s no such thing, right?”

“Yeah, but I asked for a ghost story.”

“Ohhh,” Grampy said with a laugh, “I though you said ‘goats story’ and I asked myself ‘why on earth would-‘”

“Grampy!” the boy cut him off, exasperated.

“I think I hear your ma roll’n into the driveway, better go and meet her.”

The older boy didn’t hesitate to run into the house, but the younger one stayed right where he was, looking at the old man. After a long hard look, he said “I didn’t hear my mom’s car until after you pointed it out.”

The old man’s grin widened.

“How did you hear that if you couldn’t hear that Buck said ‘Ghost Story?’”

Grampy laughed and said, “You’re a smart kid, Billy. Now run along and give your mom a hug.”

He watched the kid run into the house.

“’Goats story,’ “ he laughed, shaking his head, “You old coot.”

Then he got up and walked in after them.

The Prize

“For my prize,” the hero demanded, “you shall create for me a hunting companion.”

The god hung his head and sighed, “to what specifications, mortal?”

“Cross the mightiest pack hunter with the deadliest killer.”

“You want me to… cross a wolf with a snake?”

“Obey! Or so help me, I will unleash such-“

“Okay, okay. Hold on. I’ll make you your fucking dachshund.”

The Park, the Tree, and the Dog

DSC_0057

The little park was not far removed from civilization, but sitting under the oak tree, in the moments between the frequent passersby, Duncan could pretend that it was. The tree was a beautiful, old, gnarled oak tree that he thought about sometimes while sitting at his desk at work when he needed a peaceful visual to calm him down or stave off the empty feeling that everything he did was futile. The oak itself didn’t make the feeling go away, but it somehow made him care less. Having a decent picture of the oak, he thought, might help. Getting a decent picture, that captured the aspects he wanted to, however, was proving more difficult than he had expected. It was such a beautiful subject to photograph; he had thought that it would be easy to capture an attractive image. Someone more skilled in the workings of a camera and more practiced in framing an aesthetically pleasing shot could have worked wonders with it, but Duncan was neither of these things and the deep, brilliant majesty his eyes saw was somehow filtered out during the image taking process.

Every once in a while an ant came wandering along, so he had to check around him on occasion to make sure he wasn’t getting ants in his pants. Overall, though, it was a pleasant and comfortable place to sit. He leaned back and stared at the tree. Sunlight trickled through its leaves and the mottled shade around him changed slowly and smoothly from the gentle breeze tussling his hair.

Duncan was contemplating this effect of the light and wondering how he might go about capturing it, when the dog trotted by. A dog passing the small piece of trail he could see from his place of contemplation was not abnormal. The people that frequented this park were generally of three categories: exercising, contemplating, or walking their dogs. Sometimes people did several of these at once. There was a specific woman he saw often when he came to visit the tree, who would run at speeds Duncan considered a sprint, but she did them for multiple loops of the mile-long trail, and she did so keeping pace with 3 dogs. Another regular was the man Duncan called “the Brooder” in his own mind. There wasn’t much more to say about the Brooder that the name didn’t cover. He wore jeans and a t-shirt, and his hair was an untidy bush around his head. He could often be seen at this time on Sundays, staring at the trail in front of him while he walked, a little off to one side, a pensive frown on his face. If one watched him he could be seen on occasion to slow in pace momentarily, wave his head back and forth slightly as if debating a particularly troublesome point, then shrug and shuffle onward. Duncan noticed people that he saw regularly, but he was more likely to notice the dogs. He liked dogs and wanted there to be one waiting to greet him when he got home, but it didn’t feel like the responsible choice. “Soon,” he had been saying for about 5 years.

There were many dogs that he saw when he came at this time on Sundays. There was the heavy-weight chocolate lab that just wanted to sniff everything, and the group of four basset hounds that walked together like some sort of droopy sled dogs attached to a single leash and pulling the tiny woman attached to the other end so that she always seemed on the verge of tipping over. There was the ball-focused dog that was some sort of mix which included some large part German Sheppard. There was a tiny, white, fluffy terrier that was not shy about trying to get pet by every human it passed. Often Duncan saw an elderly pug that wouldn’t walk more than a few paces before sitting down and groaning until he was picked up. There was even a medium-sized pit-bull that wore a string of fake pearls atop her collar. Duncan had the vague sense that the woman who was usually walking beside the pit was attractive, but he couldn’t have picked her out of a line-up without the dog, he only remembered the glamorous, goofy dog with the string of pearls. On any given Sunday, there were more dogs than these around, but these were the core group that he saw almost every time.

No, it was not strange for a dog to come trotting down the path. What was strange about this one was that it was humanless. Perhaps, Duncan thought, the dog had just run ahead of its person a little and they were on the way. Duncan waited a few moments listening. He could hear the chatter of two teenage girls that where coming from the other direction, but he didn’t hear anyone coming from the way the dog had.

He stood and, tucking the camera back into its case, made his way to the trail. The dog had trotted a little past where he had seen him, then slowed to smell something. The two teenage girls ran past, talking incessantly while running, in the way of youth, and didn’t seem to pay the dog any mind; they didn’t belong to the dog any more than he did.

“Hey, buddy, where’s your human?” he called to the dog, approaching him. The dog looked at him and watched him approach, neither coming forward, nor running away. He was a medium-sized mutt of some sort with yellow, shaggy fur, long, floppy ears, and a thin tail. He could, perhaps have been part yellow lab, but the face was a stubbier shape and his body was much smaller. When Duncan got close, he crouched and stuck his hand out. The dog stretched his neck out to sniff the hand. He wasn’t wearing a collar.

After the customary sniff, the dog looked up at his face, then took a step towards him and Duncan reached up and rubbed the fur atop his little head. His little head pushed back into Duncan’s hand affectionately. Duncan used both hands to rub behind the dog’s ears, repeating the question “where’s your human, buddy?”

He looked around again, there was still nobody in sight. “Are you all alone?” he asked, making eye contact with the dog, “like me?”

The dog responded by pushing past his hands and angling his body so that it rested against his legs. It was, Duncan thought, as if he was saying, “Not anymore.”

A brief flutter of joy blossomed in Duncan’s chest and he sat down onto the ground. The dog climbing onto his lap, trying to lick his face. What if the dog WAS alone? Could he take him home? What real reason was there for him to not bring a dog home? He could scrape together the money for the extra deposit on his apartment, and he could budget for food and toys.

He stood up, realizing that he was getting a little ahead of himself. “We should probably look around a bit for your human, before I go getting you a key to my apartment, huh?”

The dog just looked up at him, tongue hanging out to one side and eyes smiling.

“Come on,” Duncan said, walking back the direction he had seen the dog come from, the dog watched him for a moment, then ran to catch up, staying level with Duncan’s right leg. He sniffed things as they walked, and looked around, but every few steps he would shift his weight ever so slightly so that his body would brush against Duncan’s leg. When other people came along, the dog shrunk from them or sniffed their dogs, but remained at Duncan’s side, while he asked each and every one if they had seen someone looking for a dog.

“Aw, little guy’s lost?” a man asked, reaching down to pet him. The dog backed away and remained out of reach. “Must just not like men; probably a woman’s dog,” the man offered, then moved on.

“Sure,” Duncan said with a smirk as the dog nestled back up against his leg, “you just don’t like men.”

They did the entire loop without a single person claiming the dog or having any information about a lost dog. By this time his new, hairy friend was starting to pant and Duncan realized that, being fairly hot out, the dog might be getting thirsty.

“Let’s head back to my car, get you some water, and call animal control to ask what I’m supposed to do,” he said, “Oh, don’t look at me like that, we need to check if anyone is looking for you, but if not, don’t worry, you’re coming home with me. You’ll like it there.”

On their walk back to the parking lot, Duncan let his imagination run away with him, imagining how it was going to be having this dog live with him. He smiled as he thought over potential names he could propose to see how the dog reacted. He contemplated, only briefly, if he would let the dog sleep in the bed. As a kid, his mom had strictly forbidden dogs from the furniture, but this was HIS choice and he settled very quickly on the idea that – once treated for fleas, of course – the dog would be taking over his bed in no time. The smile turned to a broad grin as he thought about becoming one of those guys that ran with a dog every morning. He had been a runner when he was young, but had fallen out of it as it held no real appeal to him, until he thought about running with a dog. For some reason, that was much better.

By the time they made it back to the parking lot, Duncan had already decided which bowls could be re-purposed for dog food. He had picked which blanket the dog would get to cuddle in that evening, and he had started contemplating how he was going to manage a trip to the store to get dog food and shampoo. He didn’t want to leave him in the car, how would he feel being left in a strange apartment alone? Could he leave him with a neighbor while he ran to the store? He didn’t really know any of his neighbors. The one he had met was an asshole with a loud television and a constant parade of different women coming and going at weird hours. The only thing these women seemed to have in common was that they screamed during sex. He didn’t want to leave the dog with that neighbor.

When they entered the parking lot, there was a Prius parked right by the trail-head, with an old woman standing next to it. When she saw them, her eyes lit up and Duncan’s heart dripped into his stomach. He immediately knew what was coming, and tried to smile, though it hurt.

“Oliver! There’s my boy!” she yelled, and the dog bound to her to get his head scratched. After a brief tousle, she opened the door, and, without so much as a backwards glance, the dog jumped into the car.

“Thank you for finding him,” the woman called to Duncan, as she went to the driver side, “that was so nice of you!”

Then, without awaiting a response, she was in the car and it was creeping silently out of the parking spot.

Duncan swallowed hard as he watched the car start to drive away, then looked to the trees at his right, taking a long, slow breath. “Sure, “ he mumbled to himself, “I was being nice.” The emptiness was back and he wanted, very much to go ponder the oak tree again, but he had already done that today, so he started toward his car. “That’s why I did it; I was being nice.”

Pocket Hole

“There’s a hole in the fabric of spacetime… in my pants.”

“No, that’s not a pick-up line. It’s true! There’s a hole in the bottom of my pocket and when I stick my finger through it, my finger doesn’t poke my leg, it goes somewhere else… somewhere cold. It’s really quite remarkable. Give it a try!”

“Miss? Miss, come back… oh, damn.”

And thus it was that Ken discovered the only stable wormhole known to humanity, but due to its unfortunate placement, nobody ever found out about it.

Audio Files

Soooo… I use Dropbox to share the audio files of me reading select stories… and Dropbox changed so all the audio files stopped working (thanks Dropbox).
I think I’ve fixed them but, unfortunately they are just links to Dropbox, rather than being embedded in the page. If anyone knows of a way to embed mp3s in WordPress without paying for premium or hosting it yourself, please let me know!

I’ve also deleted a few posts that were just lists of other posts where there were audio files. Fixing the original posts themselves was enough work, and I didn’t really see the point in fixing those too.

Please contact me if you come across one that doesn’t work, thanks!

 

As far as new stuff goes, I’ve added an audio file for

Norbert Faustino’s Disappearance: https://imasillypirate.wordpress.com/2016/09/26/norbert-faustinos-disappearance

and The Last Sunset: https://imasillypirate.wordpress.com/2017/01/02/the-last-sunset

Enjoy!

 

Sonny’s Fix

Sonny was jonesing as he walked down the path toward Old Man Richardson’s garden. When he got caught, there was usually trouble, but he didn’t intend to get caught. Despite his craving, Sonny had waited patiently in the shadows of his own porch, feigning disinterest in everything, but actually watching the old man’s house. The old man had just gotten in his beat-up truck and taken off down the road. He had been wearing a nice shirt and a tie, so Sonny knew he’d be gone a while. Geezers dressed up to go to the post office and the grocery store, both of which were on the far side of town; he had plenty of time.

The truck and its trailing cloud of smoke hadn’t even disappeared around the corner yet, but Sonny was already halfway down the path that ran along the side of the old man’s house and into his backyard. Sonny’s mind was focused on the herb he knew was growing in the back corner of the garden and his heart raced in anticipation. He used to get it from his old lady but then, refusing to explain, she had stopped getting it for him and he had needed to find another source. The little patch growing in the back of the old man’s garden had been his saving grace. He would have gone out of his mind if he hadn’t gone rooting around in all the neighbor’s yards when they weren’t home and stumbled across it. It wasn’t weak stuff like what his old lady had brought him either, this was fresh, primo shit. He never took more than just a little, knowing that if he took too much, it might be missed.

Sonny made it to the fence and jumped up onto the top railing in a single bound. It was a low, rustic, wooden fence. Sonny wasn’t very heavy, but even still, the fence wobbled under his weight, uncertain if it wanted to hold him up. With a quick glance around, Sonny dropped down into the garden. The mounting thrill of his impending high steadied him and he no longer felt the need to rush. He listened to the distant buzzing of insects and savored the smell of the sun warmed soil as he meandered slowly back towards his destination. He even stopped once to stare down a grasshopper that he caught sitting next to the thin, winding path, hoping the giant beast would just pass by without noticing him. Obviously, the staring contest was short-lived and Sonny declared himself the victor when the insect bound off into a stand of tall tomato plants.

Rounding the last bend, Sonny stopped in his tracks, his jaw falling open. Where previously had stood a tight cluster of the most beautiful plants he had ever seen, there were only a series of shallow holes in the ground. They had been there the day before, but where where they now?

He looked around, not aware that in his distress his breathing was getting heavy. They were nowhere to be seen. He crept up to the closest of the holes and knelt down close to the ground, his eyes beginning to water and his teeth grinding. He was definitely not mistaken about where the plants had been; there were a few little leavings from the bush littered around in the dirt beneath where the plants used to sit. Lowering his face down to one of these, he sniffed it, the familiar, pungent smell rolled into his nose, tingling his brain and letting loose a cascade of desire for more. He picked it up with his tongue and chewed the tiny leaving frantically as he moved to the next little scrap and the next, scooping them up as well. This wasn’t how Sonny wanted it, eating off the ground like some sort of rodent, but he took what he could get.

All the little leavings hadn’t been enough. Most were too old, and all were too small, but it had taken the edge off. He sat in the middle of the patch of barren soil in the sun, thinking.

How dare Old Man Richardson tear up his plants like that and leave him high and dry? He had probably done it because he knew Sonny needed it. Obviously the old man was going to have to pay, but how? Sonny could break into his house and shit on the table… or… better yet, he thought, he could hide under the man’s porch and trip him, making him tumble headlong down the stairs. The old bastard would break a hip at the very least. Sonny smiled with a self-satisfied purr at that thought. Finally, he picked himself up and strolled back down the path away from where the catnip used to grow, his paws carrying him silently across the ground.


Listen to me read it here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ckg6e80x9l07yxf/SonnysFix.mp3?dl=0