Dear wonderful and amazing readers – I had every intention of this final story snippet being posted on Saturday. Life, however, intervened as it is sometimes known to do. There were car repairs which ended up with my car going straight back into the shop (ya know, the cheapest and easiest way to solve this whole “check engine light” thing would be to just put some electrical tape over the light). There was the eye appointment that included getting a wee bit stronger prescription because apparently it wasn’t just my imagination that road signs and objects in general have become harder to see. And then there was the possum. Yes, an adorable momma possum ambled up to our front porch to eat some of the food I’d left out for a stray cat and she had an even more adorable BABY possum chilling out on her back while she ate dinner. Okay, finding myself watching the up close and personal version of National Geographic for 15 minutes isn’t exactly on the same scale as everything else that got packed into Saturday but you would have chosen watching that cuteness on parade over writing too, I know you would. That being said, apologies for the late post and I am very glad to finally be able to share it. Both this and the awesome possum encounter are easily two of the least expensive things to occur this weekend!
Albert threw a single sack onto the back seat of his airship, the contents of which included several pens and a new, blank journal. His old journal, with all his scientific scribblings and recorded eurekas from experiments completed in years past, now rested in the hands of what he considered the best pair of apprentices he could have ever hoped for.
“You’re sure you want to leave this with me?” Simone seemed to ask the journal itself as she and Ian thumbed through its pages together. “All this work, everything you’ve ever done and discovered—
“Is now the beginning of your own work and discoveries.” Albert held out yet another journal to them. “And I’m sure the information in this one will make more sense to you than it ever did me anyhow.”
Ian took the journal, his eyes widening as he turned the cover to reveal its contents. “But this is the one that your father wrote in, isn’t it? Yeah, it is, here’s that illustration of a toaster, the light bulbs,” he turned a page and thwacked the next one with his finger, “even one of those old cameras where the picture spits out and develops after you take it. Why are you giving this to me, I’m no inventor or scientist.”
“But the young woman standing next to you is and I imagine you’re actually familiar with all the strange contraptions listed on those pages. And since the two of you are so smitten with each other,” he smiled at the blushing couple, “I can’t imagine a better combination of minds for ensuring the information in both journals continues being useful after I’m gone.”
“After you’re gone?” A confused and angry voice shouted at them from near the airship. “Uncle Albert, where are you going?”
Albert turned toward the ship to find Sylvia standing with arms crossed and a pout so large it looked as though her bottom lip might takeover the chin under it. Beside her stood Gwendoloena.
“Albert, dear friend,” Gwendoloena put a hand on the girl’s shoulder, “I know you weren’t going to leave without saying goodbye to one last person.”
“Of course not!” Albert sighed while nodding at the niece before him. “Just trying to wait until the very last minute though. That’s how it always is with difficult tasks and final farewells I suppose.”
Sylvia stepped toward him, planting both hands on her hips. “What do you mean final farewell?”
“Sylvia, you know I”—Albert started to kneel down and then decided against such an action that, in his current state, may prove itself irreversible—“you know I love you and everyone else in the family very much. And I am so very glad to have been given the chance to see you all now safe and sound from the havoc those two Keepers stirred up. But while that may be true, I didn’t actually live to see it. And what I am now,” he leaned against the table, “is not something that should still be walking and talking.”
“But we won, remember!” Sylvia shoved Gwendoloena’s hand away. “And she’s looking less like a monster now, so is everyone else in this castle. Maybe it just takes longer with you and Seth because you’re zombies, I don’t know, but that means the curse is over!”
Albert shook his head. “I’m afraid there’s one key difference shared by Seth and I versus the residents of this castle. That crooked apprentice of mine murdered me and poor Seth fell at the hands of a thief while he was traveling on the road. The sad truth of the matter is that we both died in fairly typical fashion whereas Gwendoloena and everyone under her charge were all still alive. That they became monsters was just a result of the curse on them and now that it’s over and done with, they’re simply changing back into the people they used to be. For me, that same curse is the reason someone who should have never stood back up in the first place is even talking to you now. And again, since the curse is over and done with,” he shrugged, “I’m changing back into what I used to be or rather, should be.”
“I don’t understand.” Sylvia’s pout drooped down further. “Changing back into what?”
“For lack of better word I’m well,” the zombie stretched his arms out and made a mock examination of the decaying hands and arms, “I’m dying I guess you might say. In just a short matter of time, maybe a few days, all the magical hoo-haw that made this body bounce back up will be gone and I’ll be quiet as a rock like I should have stayed.”
Sylvia gave the queen a side-glance. “No you won’t, Gwendoloena is right here and she can fix that, right Gwendoloena?” The glance became a glare as the queen shook her head. “Why not! You’re supposed to be a powerful magician and you even defeated the Keepers! That means you’re the most powerful one now, why won’t you!”
“Because little one,” Gwendoloena sighed and tucked a loose lock of hair behind Sylvia’s ear, “there are some things which shouldn’t be fixed because they are the way they should be, even when we don’t like it very much.” She nodded her chin toward Albert. “And this is what your uncle wants, to say goodbye while he can.”
“And then leave!” Sylvia whirled back to face him. “That’s what you want, to run off and hide like some sick cat!”
“I’m not running and hiding.” Albert waved a hand toward his airship. “I’m going on one last adventure. Seth, wherever he started off to this morning, is fairly much doing the same. And we both got a chance that few people, monster or otherwise, ever get when facing death and that is to actually say goodbye to the people we give half a hoot about.”
Sylvia stomped her foot. “What about mother? Did you tell her you were going to fly off in your airship and never come back?”
Albert nodded. “She was the very first one I spoke to about it.”
“And what did she have to say about it? I bet she gave you an earful of how stupid this whole thing is, didn’t she!”
“No, she said goodbye.” Albert shared a look with Gwendoloena as his niece’s anger faded away somewhat. “Sylvia, to be honest, you’re one of the very last people to know I’m leaving because I knew you would give me the biggest amount of grief about it. But there’s absolutely nothing to be sad or upset about because what more could I ask for?” Albert motioned toward Ian and Simone behind him. “My work will continue in the hands of these two wonderful people and,” he made a jerky motion with his other arm toward Sylvia, “I leaving knowing my family is safe.” He let the hand fall with a sigh. “The only remaining thing I wish is that I could have witnessed seeing you find a proper young man to marry but at least I know you’ll won’t be marrying Trevor and that’s almost as good in my book. In fact, he’s just about the only one I didn’t plan on saying goodbye to and if I never see that sorry lad again, I’ll die a very happy zombie.”
As if he’d called him by name, Trevor came bounding into the room with colorful elongated spheres attached to wooden tongue dispensers in either hand. “Look everyone, I made Popsicles!”
“Trevor, well done!” Gwendoloena took one of the spheres, a bright blue one, and held it out by its stick at arm’s length. “However, I don’t quite know what this is that you managed to make.”
“I do!” Ian ran over to claim the lime green colored one that Trevor offered him. “It’s sort of like ice cream, I used to eat these all the time when I was a kid!” He started to chomp into his but stopped mid-bite. “Wait, why do you have Popsicles here?”
“Because the author was late posting this last chapter!” cheered Deigen as he and V entered the room, both carrying colorful spheres on tongue dispensers of their own. “And the three of us all agreed last night that if the last snippet was late, we’d get to have Popsicles.” [Authors note: one of the things I’ve enjoyed while writing this story via blog has been letting the characters point a finger at me when needed. There may or may not be Popsicles in the final draft].
“Deigen and V,” Gwendoloena took on a scolding mother tone, “I’m fairly certain we don’t have Popsicles in this world and you know full well they have nothing to do with the story.”
Both former vampires, bearing normal complexions but still retaining about an inch worth of fangs at the moment, quietly munched on their Popsicles in response.
Gwendoloena sighed at them and let out a chuckle. “Well, I suppose we were having a bit too serious of an ending anyhow, perhaps it was time for a little intervention.” She bit into her Popsicle and nodded with surprised approval. “Hmm, this is quite good.”
“Here Albert, do you want one?” Trevor offered a white Popsicle to the zombie. “You can eat it on your trip to wherever you’re going!”
Albert raised a brow at the cold treat presented to him. “Is it brain-flavored by any chance?”
“Um no.” Trevor drew his hand back. “I think this one’s pineapple.”
“Trevor, I never liked pineapples while I was living and I don’t like you now but I appreciate the offer.” Albert turned and hobbled toward his airship. “Well, I’ve settled my final affairs best I could and said goodbye to everyone I wanted to and even someone I didn’t so guess it’s time for me to take off.” He hopped in the ship’s cockpit and flipped a few switches until the machine came to life. As the airship slowly began floating upward, the zombie waved one last goodbye to the living below. “So long Sylvia and friends, I’ll miss you all!” His tone remained upbeat even as he turned his head to address Trevor one last time. “Stay away from any romantic notions with my niece or I swear I’ll come back and eat you.”
“Yes sir!” Trevor gulped and sidestepped away from Sylvia until he was standing beside Deigen and V again. He joined the rest of the group in waving goodbye to the airship as it tilted ever so slightly to make room for it wings and flew out the window.
And so here our story ends with a zombie flying off into the sunset, final farewells made by some and new beginnings starting for others. But if you’re the type who has never been fond of the words “the end,” just remember how close another world might be. If you happen to ever spot a strange stone with markings you can’t decipher or find monsters raiding the fridge at night, that other world may be as close as your closet.