Chris has written more than 300 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.
The growls and roars of earthmoving equipment drowned out the singing birds, the wind in the trees and the breaking waves on the beach below. Construction crews were busy clearing the site for the new resort. Will parked his car along the gravel road and walked half a mile to the church. He was just one more casual observer who stopped by to see all the activity and progress. He entered through the back door and found Delia alone. Val and Bernard were making face to face contact with every vampire in the area. No one would refuse to help, but everyone deserved to know the extent of the danger.
“So you three just hang out here in the sanctuary all day and night?”
“Why? Does it seem disgustingly dirty and gloomy to you?”
“If I think of it as a place to live, yes, disgustingly dirty and gloomy pretty much says it all.”
Delia laughed and took Will’s hand. “Come with me. I’ll show you around.”
Her hand was cold. Will expected that. She squeezed firmly, so it wasn’t like holding hands with a corpse. In fact, her hand slowly warmed, and Will had to admit he was enjoying the flesh to flesh contact with the woman.
If someone comes into the building, what do the three of you do?
“We do this.” Delia released his hand.
Will turned to see what she meant, but she was gone.
“Here, silly mortal.”
Will looked up, and saw her pressed against the ceiling looking down on the room.
“Or we do this.”
Will looked everyplace, but could not find the woman.
“I’m right here.” Delia whispered into Will’s ear which sent shivers down his spine.
She reappeared and walked to the back corner of the dimly lit room. She bent down and lifted a section of floor that was about six feet by two feet. They could see the top of a stairway that was swallowed by darkness just a couple of feet down. Delia went first. At the bottom, she switched on the lights. Expansive, modern and comfortable described the living quarters of the vampires.
“In my mind I had you hanging from the rafters in the bell tower.”
“We aren’t bats.
“I know, but there are a few myths that need to be dispelled.
“Crosses. I counted three between here and the sanctuary.”
“And it is surprising to me to find someone — a woman vampire, who is so alluring.”
“Alluring am I?” Delia moved closer to Will.
“Very.” Will touched her hair, ran his fingers across her cheek and down her neck. She was more enticing than anyone he had ever known, but a woman like her, a woman of the world, was anathema, forbidden fruit, untouchable according to his upbringing.
“Would you like to see my room?”
“He might like to step outside for some fresh air until he comes back to his senses.” Val stood at the bottom of the stairway from the sanctuary. Bernard was just coming down.
“This is none of your business, Val,” said Delia.
Will stepped away and slipped past Val and Bernard. Outside he crossed the gravel parking lot to the cemetery. Val had been right. He needed to keep his mind on the issues at hand. Delia was a beautiful woman, intriguing, sensual, all the things that added up to distraction at this critical moment.
The big machinery had shut down for the day, and the workers were pulling out of their parking area mostly in pickup trucks. The sounds of nature were returning, sounds which had been the music of these bluffs for millennia. Will’s attention returned to the graves in front of him. Just a few feet of dirt and a magic spell that was a century and a half old separated him from something so horrible, no one would believe it. This was one of the times when the necessity of proof was a very real problem. Of course, whoever was so unlucky as to be here on Tuesday night would get evidence in spades.
“You’re the newspaper guy, aren’t you? The one who’s stirring up all the trouble for RDAA.” A man wearing a hardhat sat in his truck eyeing Will. His face was tanned and leathery from years of working on construction sites like this one.
“Yes, I suppose from your perspective, that would be a fitting way to describe me. But if you knew what I know and who I know, you’d walk off your job and start handing out pamphlets and writing letters to the editor along with us.”
“So tell me what you know and introduce me to who you know.” The man was standing beside Will. “
“You’d just think I’m crazy.”
“Hey man, I already think your nuttier that a fruitcake. But why don’t you let me in on your little secrets. Give me the chance to decide what I believe and don’t believe.”
“After Tuesday night, you’ll know plenty, if your still alive, that is.”
“Your goin’ about this all wrong, man. George Marley is leading the way for RDAA. He and the company are like a bully on the playground. They want the best swing on the swing set, and they’ll do whatever they gotta do to get it. They used to have the community’s support. Now they’re just shoving the people out of the way and going forward anyway. If you’ve got a good reason that this cemetery shouldn’t be dug up, you need to take charge and start setting the terms. Otherwise, you’re gonna lose.”
“What’s your name?”
The man removed his hardhat revealing a bald pate. “The name’s Jarod, but everybody calls me Curly.”
“Come with me, Curly.”
Val, Bernard and Delia were in the sanctuary. When Will and Curly walked in, they were immediately on their feet.
“Will, who’s this?” Val met the two men half way up the center aisle.
“This is Curly, one of the construction workers. He has a severe case of common sense. I thought it might be contagious, so I brought him here to expose us all.”
An hour later, the group had crafted a new position and a letter to George Marley. In the letter, they suggested that Marley and a few construction workers meet with them on Friday night, just two nights away. Rather than open all the graves at once, they would open just one. If there was nothing but dust and bones, the opposition group would walk away and drop the issue. If, however, something unexpected, something horrible happened, Marley was to recommend to the development company that the cemetery be left in its present condition and incorporated into the resort.
When Will delivered the letter to Marley on Thursday morning, it was a no brainer. In his view, no monster was going to emerge from the grave. He accepted the suggestion regarding Friday night and kept plans intact for exhuming all the remains from the cemetery on the following Tuesday night.