Sequel to “Winter Awakening”
Through the window, yellow blooms reached up from the snow. They were Grandma’s favorite.
Grandpa Charles sat in his rocking chair, reading a book by the fireplace. Aviva grabbed a bright pink snow jacket from the coat hooks near the door.
She was going to pick the flowers to give to Grandpa. Ever since Grandma disappeared he seemed sad, the flowers might make him feel happy.
Cold air gusted at her face. Stars still sparkled in the morning sky.
“Aviva, shut the door and don’t go out!” Grandpa yelled.
The door shut at lightspeed. Unsure what she did wrong, she went to her grandfather’s side.
“Why can’t I go out? I finished my breakfast and brushed my teeth.”
“It’s still dark outside. Your dad tell you what comes out in the dark?”
“Yeah, it’s when the monsters come out to eat!” she recalled. Admittedly, she thought that perhaps no monsters lived in Northpaw.
“Not just any dumb ole monsters. Vampires. Their craftier than the next guy in line, and the ones around here can hold a grudge,” he explained, “Did I ever tell you the story of when Grandma killed one?”
Aviva took a seat on his knee as he told her about the night two came knocking on their door pretending to be injured. How Grandma lunged her silver cross dagger straight into one heart before it could eat her.
Aviva listened in awe, never knowing Grandma had been so cool. She told her grandfather she wanted to be just like her; with her own silver dagger to kill vampires with.
Grandpa stood up and took Grandma’s knife from the mantel. Handing Aviva the knife and a scabbard for it.
“Here, this’ll be yours. Don’t play around with it; it’s a tool, not a toy.”
By the time the story was over, the sun graced the day with light. She and Grandpa went out together to where the flowers popped from the snow. Grandpa crouched down beside her for a better look at the blooms.
“Grandma liked these ones because they always bloom before the rest. They’re like a sign of hope, she used to say. That the monsters go to sleep soon.”
They both turned to where the noise was. Two women stood atop a nearby hill. One held a parasol and smoked a cigar; the other aimed a bow with an arrow set aflame.
Grandpa’s cabin was engulfed in fire.
“No! How could you?” he shouted at them.
They jumped onto a snowmobile and flew it down the backside of the hill. A cloud of snow trailing behind the machine. Grandpa stood senseless as the destructive element ate up his house. He fell to the ground, sobbing into gloved hands.
Aviva approached him with a flower in hand. She hugged him over his shoulders.
“It’s okay Grandpa.”
“No, it’s not Aviva.”
She wasn’t sure what she could say to make Grandpa happy again, but she had the yellow flower, so she handed it to him.
Eventually Grandpa picked himself back up. He went over to his truck and kicked the ground.
“Damnit, they slashed my tires.” he said, “We’ll have to walk to the lodge. It’ll be a long walk, but I doubt they’ll search for food with so many people around.”
Aviva and Grandpa Charles hunkered down in the lodge, Grandpa calling her father to drive back to Northpaw to pick her up.
The sun was still bright in the evening though it was about time for bed. Grandpa pulled down darkening curtains and they soon fell asleep.
“Aviva~” a voice whispered in the darkness, rousing her from sleep. She wondered if it was in her imagination.
“Aviva.” it said again.
It was feminine, so it couldn’t have been Grandpa’s.
“If you come out here, I will help you find your grandmother.”
And that settled it. The girl crept out the lodge like a snake on the hunt. If Grandma was here, Grandpa wouldn’t have to be sad when he saw pictures of her. Maybe Grandma could teach her how to fight vampires?
It wasn’t too dark that night with the full moon in the sky, but it was cold. She couldn’t see who had called her after grazing the environment.
“Go towards the owl.” the voice said.
Before Aviva could ask where the owl was, she heard a hoot coming from the forest. She went forth in the direction where she heard it, and passing under a tree she heard it flap its wings to disappear into the night sky.
The woman spoke again, “Keep walking forward. You’ll find a man named Jules and he’ll take you to your grandmother.”
She found a truck outlined by moonlight. The headlights were on, and a man sat on the hood of the vehicle.
She didn’t know how he could see her in the dark when she could barely see him, but he slid off the hood and walked toward her.
“Hello Aviva, my name is Jules. Do you want to see your Grandma?”
Grandpa Charles turned in his bed, noticing the room had become ice cold. That led him to seeing the door wide open, and his granddaughter missing from her bed.
There were no second thoughts. He dressed and headed out to track down Aviva.
The only thing to accompany him was his silver cross shortsword. Didn’t matter; all he needed was it and the moon to light the way.
The night was clear, so the girl’s tracks weren’t filled by snow. Though he made sure to walk quietly, his stealth didn’t decrease his speed. He wasn’t sure how long ago Aviva left, but he knew there wasn’t enough time to find out.
Ahead were two headlights; one spotlighted his granddaughter, the other, a familiar face from years ago.
The vampire grabbed the girl by the hood of her jacket, “You take a step closer and I’ll drain her right in front of you.”
“Put her down, I’m begging you. She’s just a child.” Grandpa pleaded.
“That never stopped you, so why should it stop me?” Jules replied.
Aviva saw that Grandpa didn’t know what to do. She would have never guessed that the man holding her now was one of the monsters, but since he was…
She sliced overhead with her dagger, cutting a divot in the monster’s wrist. Dropped into the snow, Aviva ran toward Grandpa as the man glared at them.
Grandpa unsheathed his shortsword in case the vampire attacked, but he just got back into the truck and drove away. With the look in his eyes, there was no doubt he’d be back.
In the safety of the lodge, Grandpa asked her why she wandered off.
“The monster called me. He was going to show me where Grandma was.”
“Called you? From all the way in the forest?”
“Yeah, but not in my ears. From inside my brain.”