Ben and the Girl in the Yellow Jacket

Here’s a short story I made that was supposed to follow the rules for the New Year’s party challenge.  I did screw up by not specifying a New Year’s party, but I think it came out okay in the end.

Ben never really enjoyed parties.  Sure, it was a nice way to meet new people and get back in touch with ones he hadn’t seen in a while, but as a whole, the parties were just not that fun.  He’d move about from group to group, hoping that he would fit in somewhere; and he might for a minute or two, but then the subject would change and he would end up feeling awkward again.  And since the parties were almost always being thrown in his apartment by his roommate, it just meant that he couldn’t go to sleep when he wanted to and when he would wake up he would just be forced to stare at the wreckage from the night before.

Tonight’s party didn’t seem like it was going to be much different.  Ben greeted people as warmly as he could when they would come in, and when most of the people seemed to be there, he would take his place by the food table.  The food table was always the best place to be.  Everyone just gives you a passing glance and a quick, sly smile as they load up their plates, no one wants to engage you because all they really want in that moment is more chips, and you get the added bonus of feeling like you’ve done a good thing by not spending the entire evening wolfing down every last morsel on the table like a calorie-sucking vacuum cleaner.

Ben was watching a drunk couple attempt to fondle each other while trying to load french onion dip onto a plate when he spotted someone new.  The girl was wearing a short, slick, yellow jacket that perfectly accentuated her beautiful blonde hair.  He was immediately smitten, but also confused.  Was it raining?  He hadn’t been outside for several hours, but it didn’t seem like it was going to rain today.  Maybe she knew something he didn’t.  If it was going to rain too hard, maybe she could just stay the night here.  Maybe she could stay here forever and they could just stay inside and never have to leave and he would never have to take his eyes off her.

But he did take his eyes off her the moment she glanced his way and gave him a smile.  He wasn’t ready for her to acknowledge him!  Not yet!  He had to work up a plan first!  Meeting the love of your life and really hitting it off takes time!  It’s not something that can just happen haphazardly like that!  After a few moments, he realized he didn’t even know if she was still there.  When he finally fought the urge to stop averting his gaze lest she peer into the very depths of his soul with her penetrating blue eyes and see the feeble creature beneath, he found that her attention had gone back to the friend she came in with.

He had obviously never seen her at these parties before, but Ben realized he had never seen her friend either.  She was a short, stocky woman who obviously knew what she wanted in life because they hadn’t been there more than five minutes and she already had a drink.  Her friend in the yellow jacket, though, was here for a different reason.  It was clear her friend dragged her here against her will.  She didn’t really seem to be enjoying herself and she seemed more focused on watching after her friend.

He knew he had to meet her and he couldn’t wait any longer.  But how should he handle it?  Just as he was running the scenarios through his head, a guy he vaguely remembered from a previous party came walking up, his gaze fixed on Ben.  “Hey buddy!  How’s it going?” the man said with a wide grin on his face.  Ben really didn’t feel like socializing and he could barely remember him, so he just gave him a quick smile and walked toward the other side of the room.  It may have been a little rude, but he had an agenda!  He had to meet the girl of his dreams and live in total bliss for the rest of his life!

But as he turned away from the man to look where he was walking, he realized the girl in the yellow jacket was gone.  He did his best to casually look around the room, but she wasn’t there.  Ben started to worry.  He reasoned that she had to still be here because her friend seemed to be having a good time and they’d only been here for a few minutes.  Doing his best to stay casual, Ben walked from room to room.  They weren’t in the kitchen, the bedrooms, or the bathroom, so where did they go?

Ben had pushed through the partygoers and reached the far end of the hallway, but there was still no sight of her.  He began to lose hope.  His heart felt crushed just thinking about someone he hadn’t even met yet.  In those few moments he had a world of potential, and now he had absolutely nothing.

Just then, he saw the front door at the other end of the hallway open.  He thought he caught a quick glimpse of yellow.  He still couldn’t see the girl, but he definitely recognized her friend!  Ben was so excited he could barely contain himself!  But if her friend is that close to the door, did the girl leave already?

Ben didn’t care about anything else anymore.  Damn the people in his way, damn that open door, and damn the whole party!  He had to meet her!  This was his only chance at true love!  Ben raced to the front door, shoving people out of the way and darting between groups as quickly as he could.  His sights were set on that door and nothing could stop him!  When he reached the door and saw her looking straight at him with surprise and excitement in her eyes, his heart stopped.

Moments before Ben was dragged away by his collar to the bedroom and repeatedly spanked for being a bad boy, he met the girl of his dreams.  He managed to sniff her butt and she sniffed his and that was all he needed.  He would never forget that scent.

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Vyth’s nightmare

A horrific scream woke Vyth in the dead of night. He reached for his weapon, racing to the edge of his tent. His heart pounding like a drum as he stepped out. The cold night air bit into his skin like needles. He tried to focus his mind. There was movement at the edge of the camp and Vyth rushed to it trying to keep his footing on the frozen ground. The night was a moonless pitch-black making sight of the hunting camp nearly impossible.

The shadowy shapes ahead slowly took humanoid form as Vyth approached. A lit torch blinded Vyth for a second with its brightness. His eyes slowly focused on three of his hunting party members standing around a tent that was completely ripped apart. Vyth’s heart sunk and his mouth went dry as he realized that it was Gunther’s tent. “What happened?” Vyth finally asked. “Where is Gunther?” The three men stood silent starring at the mangled tent.

Fearing the worst, Vyth walked to where the three stood. The torchlight flickered in the night air shining over the ravaged remains of Gunther’s tent. Vyth was able to make out parts of a horridly dismembered body. The pungent smell of blood was heavy in the air and the innards sent their warm vapors in the cold night. A lesser man would run in fear or lose the contents of his stomach. Was this Gunther?

A large man named Fallon approached. “The kill is fresh, the creature might still be around, warn the others,” he spoke in a stoic deep voice.

Vyth was oblivious to his words.

“Damn it, men! Snap out of it before this creature takes another one of us this night!” Fallon shouted in such a stern voice it gave Vyth a sense of courage, if even for a brief second.

Vyth and the other two focused on Fallon’s words and the task of warning the others. The rest of the hunting party were either hiding in their tents or standing in a distance. They were not like Fallon, a hardened warrior cast from the hells of war. His large frame and muscular body had numerous scars from the action he had seen. Fallon held his large battle-axe against his shoulder that was scared and nicked even worse than Fallon himself. Fallon was leading the hunting party this night only as a favor to the elders of the town. Gunther was the elder who had requested Fallon to lead the group, but the reasons for such an occasion were unknown.

Fallon bent down to investigate the body while the other hunters went off to warn the others. Gasps from the other hunters gathered around the fire as the two men told them that Gunther’s life had been taken in the night.

“This is not good. It’s … impossible.” Fallon muttered as he looked over the inflicted wounds.

A hunter named Gyne, spoke up from the camp, “it must have come from the woods behind us! We have to get out of here! It will no doubt come back for more of us!”

As Vyth walked around the immediate area, his blood started to run cold as he thought of the creature returning. Vyth started to doubt his courage and strength to be able to deal with the loss of another member. Or worse, to have to face the creature himself. He was not sure if it was the cold that made him shiver so much or it was the fear, but he tried to hide it. Gyne’s words of worry grew louder and started the other hunters to utter the same words of flight.

Vyth was certain Fallon would at any moment walk over and knock Gyne to the ground for causing such a panic amongst the others. Nothing happened. Worried, Vyth went back around to Gunther’s body and Fallon.

A chill went down his spine and fear engulfed his entire being. Vyth saw Fallon sitting on the cold ground holding his battle-axe in both arms staring off in the distance with a look of fear in his eye. “It cannot be… it cannot be,” Fallon muttered as his body trembled.

The Mirror

Sarah hurried along the street, chastizing herself for choosing today of all days to lose track of time in the library. Her mother’s birthday dinner was to begin in a few hours and the decorations still needed finished and the cake needed iced. Thankfully she had assistance grilling the steaks and she lived fairly close. If she just could make it to the antique store to retrieve the gift she had been eyeing she might just make it in time.

Gasping breathlessly, her chest aching from the effort, she approached the shop window. Outside, she paused to admire the large floor length mirror again. The ornately hand carved wooden frame was stained a dark walnut. The unique scrolling design was rare in more modern pieces. It had narrow pedestal legs with carved feet that reminded her of a lion’s paw. The swivel frame completed the design that her mother had missed so terribly.

It was in pristine condition, as it should be for the price. But Sarah had been saving for months, walking by the window weekly to ensure it was still there. She didn’t have a second thought about choosing this particular gift. Her mother had eyed it wistfully through the window, in similar fashion as Sarah did just now, only for different reasons. Sarah’s gaze only had her mother, Donna, in mind; however Donna’s eyes had misted over as she remembered her dearest grandmother, Mertyl, who had passed away just before Sarah had been born.

As Donna had reminisced about her grandmother, her eyes teared up lovingly. She got lost in the memories as she told her all about hovering around her grandmother’s skirt while watching her primp for the county fair. Her greatest pleasure at the time had been mimicking her and getting into her makeup. Donna’s giggle had caught in her throat when she told Sarah about the time she climbed onto the nearby dresser and had knocked over a tiffany lamp into the mirror’s frame, shattering the gorgeous stained glass shade.

Mertyl had quickly picked her up and transported her to safety away from the glass, her kind words eased her young worried mind and dried her guilty tears. It was only an object and tender little toes were not easily replaceable she’d said with a gentle smile. While Donna had never completely forgiven herself for the deep gouge the incident left in the virgin wood frame, it was obvious the woman held nothing but love for her granddaughter.

The biggest heartache of all was the fact that no one quite knew what had happened to the mirror. Over the years, as Meryl’s health had declined and moves between nursing homes and hospitals were made, things were lost or sold or given away. A familial tragedy that perhaps only she recognized for what it truly was…a sentimental treasure lost forever.

Sarah suddenly shook her head, willing herself to break free of the memories, her sense of urgency returning. As she entered the door old copper bells signaled her arrival. She walked over towards the mirror glancing around for the shopkeeper who was nowhere in sight. Feeling slightly impatient now as she turned back towards the mirror, she tilted it slightly running her hands over the carved wood as she waited.

Sarah noticed the reflection of an elderly woman shuffling across the old hardwood floors towards her. The woman caused Sarah to pause, pursing her lips as she tried to determine the cause of her familiarity. After a few beats she attributed it to her visits gazing through the shop window at the masterpiece of all gifts. Sarah reached into her bag for her wallet, anxious to complete the transaction and begin her trek back home. After paying for the mirror and arranging for delivery that evening, Sarah rushed home to complete the tasks for the party.

Sarah was beginning to get nervous. Dinner was done and most of the guests had already left. While it was still early in the evening, her mother’s gift had not yet arrived. Just then there was a knock on the door. Anxious, Sarah ran to the door, grateful to see the shop’s delivery men.

Thankful her mother was still visiting with the stragglers in the back of the house, Sarah directed the movers towards the front living room, hoping they didn’t scuff the natural hard wood floors when they brought it in. Once the mirror was muscled through the narrow door she called for Donna, pleased they left the large sheet covering it so she could thoroughly enjoy her mother’s expression when she lifted it.

Donna finally made her way to the living room and Sarah could barely contain her excitement. Her mother’s confused look at this large, awkward thing under the sheet was obvious as Sarah urged her to come closer. Donna hesitantly approached the gift, wondering what in the world her daughter had done now. Sarah was known for being impulsive so Donna wasn’t sure quite what to expect. As she began to lift the sheet she gasped.

Donna recognized the lion paw feet instantly and tears welled up in her eyes. She hurried to remove the sheet from the top of the mirror. As she ran her hands over the carved wood, her breath caught in her throat. The emotion the memories brought on was overwhelming. She grabbed Sarah in a giant hug, so great that Sarah was sure her mother would crush her ribs, and nothing had ever felt better. Sarah started crying with the joy she felt at pleasing her mother so much.

Suddenly Donna tensed up, a frozen gasp stopped her mid-spin as she released Sarah and stared at the mirror. She turned her body to look at the room behind them leading towards the door to the front hall, then back to the mirror, and back again to the doorway. As Sarah wondered what on earth was wrong with her mother she noticed something strange in the mirror. She looked closer at the old woman from the antique shop staring at them from the hallway. Sarah looked at the hall towards the old woman, wondering when she had came in, her confusion growing as she found no one there.

Sarah looked back towards the mirror to find her mother with a mixture of confusion, joy, sorrow, wonder and love on her face. As they both looked back towards the mirror it dawned on Sarah that she did know the old woman; why it was that she had looked so familiar to her when she saw her in the antique shop. It was Mertyl, Donna’s beloved grandmother. It had been a very long time but Sarah remembered Donna showing her the pictures as a young child as she entertained her with stories of her own childhood. As Sarah and her mother gazed into the mirror, Mertyl gave them a small, simple smile filled with the gentle love that Donna treasured about her.

Halloween

Subject: Halloween
Setting: Spooky
Time Period: Any
Length: Under 1,000 words
Restrictions: None
Due: October 31st

As the clock tower in the small country town struck midnight on Halloween, the howling wind carried a heavy mist into the graveyard. A stone coffin’s lid slowly slid open, the sound echoing off the mausoleum’s walls. Inside, Eva struggled to move the lid far enough to climb out. Her body still weak from its transformation. She had no idea how long she had been dead, but it felt like an eternity waiting in the coffin for enough strength to escape. Eva could wait no longer. She had to feed this night.

She had no regret for what she had become. She had suffered from a lifelong illness that kept her bedridden. Before her last breath, she had made a pact with an unholy spirit to return to the earth. She had just turned sixteen and her life had barely started. She planned to enjoy her afterlife.

She slipped out from the coffin and knelt down on the polished marble floor. Looking herself over, the long black dress appeared just as it did when she died. Her skin had turned pale white and her long dark hair looked a shade darker. Standing up, she no longer felt the pain she had in life with her illness. As unnaturally as her new condition felt, she could not deny she was reborn.

The hunger for blood was overwhelming fueling her body to move, even in its weakened condition. In life, she was a caring person but now she only wanted to drain the life out of the living. She opened the metal door and stepped out into the mist.

Walking through the graveyard, she immediately caught the scent of blood nearby. Animal-like instincts took over as she crouched down and started to prowl toward the scent. Her sight and sense of smell were much stronger than they had been in life. Even with the mist shrouding the graveyard from the light of the full moon, she could see the heat outline of a human on the edge of the graveyard.

With supernatural reflexes, Eva dashed from tombstone to tombstone toward the human figure. She knew she had to be careful in her weakened state, but thought she had enough power to overtake any man regardless of his size if she could catch him off guard.

Up ahead, a young man stood just outside the graveyard on a path in the forest. Eva could barely contain herself from leaping out and devouring him. She could hear the man’s heart beating and licked her fangs in anticipation. Slowly and silently she moved closer from tree to tree.

The man’s heartbeat shot up suddenly as he turned to look behind. He must know she was there. He turned and ran down the dark path. Eva was much quicker and stalked closely behind, but waited to attack. Soon the man ran into a clearing in the woods and fell to the ground. Without mist, the full moon shined down making it impossible for Eva to approach unseen. She slower entered the moonlight.

Eva raised her sharpened fingernails as her body burned for blood. The man looked back in horror as she approached. His body tightened. The look of horror faded from the man’s face, replaced with a look of intense pain. His body convulsed in the grass as he let out a shout of pain. His arms and legs enlarged and grew thick. The man’s body expanded and his face contorted into a snout. Eva stepped backwards unsure of what to do. The man’s screams transformed into a deep howling. He slowly stood on all fours in his wolf-like form.

She was not prepared to fight such a beast. At least, not in her current state. Surprised that she would feel fear in her new life, she turned to run back to the graveyard hoping to find shelter. She could sense the beast behind her and could hear its breath.

The edge of the graveyard was in sight. She felt relieved. Rushing back into the mist she raced back to her crypt. There she would regain her strength. As she reached for the metal gate to her mausoleum, she sensed the beast behind her. Eva turned in horror as the werewolf lunged out of the mist biting her on the arm. Its jaws clamped shut, she could not break free. The beast clawed the flesh from Eva’s body.

Eva collapsed onto the cold soil. Her body torn to shreds. She watched helplessly as the werewolf ate what remained of her. She regretted her new life had been cut so short. Soon, her vision faded. Dead again.

New Year’s Party

Subject: Love at First Sight
Setting: New Year’s Eve
Time period: Any
Length: 1000 words
Restrictions: the main character cannot speak
Due: Dec. 31

Heather quickly walked down the streets of Manhattan. It was taking her longer than she expected but she never had the patience to try to drive anywhere in this chaos. She had moved to New York City only a few short years ago. Her modest living back home left her wanting more to see and do. In such a big city with so many people she never grew bored. She felt happier than she had ever been and never had a problem staying well fed. She considered this her new start on life.

With only an hour left before midnight she rushed across the street looking up at the street sign, ‘47th Street’. She only had a few more blocks to go to get her New Year’s party. The night was extremely cold but the streets were filled with people celebrating and drinking.

She made it to the building that her party was in. She had heard that Times Square and the dropping of the New Year’s Ball could be seen from the roof. She rushed into the front doors out of the cold and rode the elevator up to the top.

The elevator doors opened into a large welcoming room with many people standing around talking. She slipped through the crowd to the door of the party. A large man stood in front of the door looking at I.D. and taking a hundred dollar cover charge. Heather had neither.

She took off her coat and adjusted her dress to show a little more of herself and slowly approached the large man.

“Identification.” He said holding out his hand.

Heather did not say a word. Instead she greeted him with a twirl of her long red hair and the batting of her light blue eyes.

The man looked her over, looked around the room and then back to her. ”Go ahead,” he said in a soft voice motioning her forward. She quickly slipped in.

The large room was decorated with ‘Happy New Year’ signs and filled with people. Loud music played in the room and wait staff handed out glasses of Champaign. My kind of a party!

She spent the next several minutes enjoying the festive environment. Her short black dress did its job at attracting attention. Several men approached her trying to made conversation but the loud music made it impossible. Since none of them interested her she did not pay them much attention.

She moved to the window looking down onto the streets below. In the distance she could see Time Square and the massive crowd that had gathered. Next to her, a man and a woman started to walk out to the balcony but a gust of cold air made them turn back. Although the balcony offered a great view of the Square the party goers seemed content on staying inside where it was warm.

Heather continued to stand near the window looking around the room. Soon her eyes fell on a wonderful sight, a man standing about 6’1 with blonde hair and a handsome face. He wore a dark blue suit and a Happy New Year necktie. She guessed his age to be about twenty-two. The man stood next to a group of other men drinking. Heather thought to herself how nice it would be to celebrate the start of the New Year with this young man.

She devised her plan. The music made it impossible to hold a conversation, but Heather was a master of body language. She adjusted her dress and brushed her hair out of her face.

Slowly walking over to the man, she picked up two glasses of Champaign from the tray of a passing waitress. Within a few steps of him, he turned to look at her. His eyes opened wide looking her over from head to toe. Heather did not say a single word. She stopped and smiled just within inches of the man close enough to smell his cologne. She held out a glass of Champaign for him and took a drink from hers. He took the glass from her. The other men around him all turned nudging him in the side. Heather held eye contact with his deep brown eyes and slowly turned away. She walked back to her place by the window in her catwalk style.

She lifted the glass up to her lips and looked back over at the man pretending to take a sip. She did not care for the taste of the Champaign and it only made her hungrier. The man looked enthralled by her performance. The other men around him pushed and urged him to walk over to her. He stood there looking confused. How much of a hint did this guy need?

Slowly and somewhat reluctantly the man walked toward her. It’s about time.

He looked up at her and tried to say something but the words were drowned out by the sound of the music. Trying to read his lips she guessed he said some corny line about love at first sight. How original. This guy was a regular poet.

Without words, they stood there admiring each other for a few minutes. The man reached out his arm and put it around her. She did not mind his touch since she planned for a lot more. When the man felt her bare shoulders, he started to take off his jacket to offer her. She held out her hand to stop him.

Heather looked outside to see it was a few minutes before midnight. Quickly looking out onto the balcony and seeing it empty she motioned to the man to step outside. He shook his head and muttered something inaudible. Heather looked up at him flashing her seductive eyes hoping he would not refuse a second time. She took his hand and led him out into the cold. At her touch, he quickly complied.

Outside, they had the area to themselves although the music still made it difficult to hold a conversation. He pointed to the countdown clock that showed less than a minute left to go. She carefully eyed the area for a place on the balcony that would be away from the prying eyes inside. She led him by the hand to an area she felt was private enough. He looked at her curiously.

Alone and in private she took him in her arms. He eagerly kissed her, caressing her body with his hands. In the street below she could hear the countdown start. She was excited.

She broke from their kiss and slowly ran her lips down his neck. He felt so warm. The man’s body reacted in delight.

“…five, four, three, two, one!!” the countdown ended. Cheering and fireworks could be heard all around them.

Heather could not contain herself anymore, she was much too anxious. She slowly sunk her fangs into the man’s neck with savored anticipation. She drank in every warm drop. As the man starting to grow cold and limp, she thought to herself what a great year this had started out to be.

Full and content, she flew off into the night.