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Old 06-09-2016, 12:42 PM
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Jason Weiser Jason Weiser is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Fairfax, VA
Posts: 455

Chapter 1

4 hours later

Joyce Summers smiled as she brought out the 9lb Turkey, golden brown, replete with stuffing and all the trimmings. “Dinner, ladies, gentlemen, and especially teenagers, is served!”

The reaction to the turkey was a lot of oohs and ahs, as the stampede to the Summer’s dining table began. Joyce barely managed to get the turkey on the table, before she had to help her father get to his seat. He was the slowest, as he had a bit of shrapnel in his hip, an inadvertent souvenir from Anzio. It was getting to the point where the VA was talking about going in to get the last of it, something they couldn’t do with any certainty in 1944.

As everyone sat, Joyce looked about the table. Everyone had dressed up for this dinner, and she hadn’t even had to ask! I guess impending Armageddon really does improve everyone’s sartorial choices? At least, for Thanksgiving?

And here I am in jeans and a T-Shirt..with a sweat rag on my hair..I am a mess. Maybe I can run upstairs and…no..let everyone eat. The bird is what we came for.

Joyce gazed around the table, first to Buffy, seated to her left. Buffy was wearing a green floral print sun dress she kept for semi-formal occasions, as it ended just at the knee, most of the time, she tended to complain about that. But today, she had put it on smiling, without a word. Her blond hair was practically glowing, and was in straight strands that framed her face, with the tips extending down to her neckline. Her green eyes were dancing with joy, and she looked radiant. Hank, you really missed out on the young lady our daughter is becoming. Shame on you, you bastard. Buffy had really made a go of things in Sunnydale for the last two years, and Joyce liked the people she was with now. Better than the people she ran with back in LA.

Xander was seated next to Buffy. He had worn a fairly nice grey suit, probably off the rack knowing Xander, but then again, it was expensive to get a tailored suit these days. His blue and green tie complemented the light blue shirt he was wearing with it. His dark hair and eyes framed it all quite well, and he was quickly becoming someone who was becoming comfortable in his own skin, not to mention having a megawatt smile that he flashed often to the delight of all the ladies at the table, especially one red-headed girl to his left. Oh Willow, sweetheart, do something about it already. I know it’s not my place, but maybe Buffy and I can have a girls movie night here..and help her out. Xander I think really likes her…and she really likes him..but the fact is? Neither one of them is going to do a damn thing about it. Adulthood, if it’s taught me anything..don’t count on tomorrow, it may never come..or is that the war? Joyce mused.

Willow herself had worn a flowing light purple dress that really showed off her hair, but it was a bit bright against her skin, which for a resident of Southern California, a bit pale. Her lipstick choice was a bit more daring than was normal for her..and Joyce recognized it as one of Buffy’s shades. Joyce smiled. Well done honey, I like this side of you..helping out your friends. Willow needs that, especially with the absentee parents she has. Willow still had trouble looking anyone in the eye, mostly looking downcast, that is..except for Xander. When they locked eyes, it tended to be to the exclusion of everyone else in the room. Buffy noticed of course, and got a little whistful about it.

Damn Angel. He really hurt my little girl. Buffy had been working hard and burying her feelings into “feeling productive”, but a mother knew, deep down, when her child was hurting. And Buffy, every time she saw Xander and Willow, pain warred with joy in her daughter’s green eyes.

At the head of the table on Joyce’s right, was her dad, Phil. Phil was wearing a light blue polo shirt with the emblem of the 3rd Infantry Division embroidered on the left breast, he’d bought it at the last Division reunion he’d been at, he wore that with a pair of dark slacks, and white tennis shoes, as he found them easier to walk in.

Phil was a flinty old Alsatian with a sharp, pointed nose, balding head, and dark, flinty eyes. Phil’s parents had left Colmar at the turn of the century, just before WWI. He had managed to get drafted in World War II, being a rifleman with the 3rd Infantry Division, until February 6th, 1944, when her father was wounded and evacuated home. He never spoke much about how it happened, but that it hurt like hell when it did. To be honest, he tried not to discuss the war much at all. With the current one raging, he was having a harder and harder time doing that.

After a series of operations that left him with a limp, Phil went to college at Marquette, studied architecture, and was a moderately successful architect all over the LA County area, where he had moved to after the war. He’d met Joyce’s mother at a nightclub on Sunset, and two kids and a lifetime together, they’d had nothing but happy memories, and a content retirement. Phil had been a quiet, kind father, who had doted on his children, determined to never let chaos rule his life again. He did everything deliberately and meticulously, never rushing for anyone. He had refused to since he got out of the Army, he’d said.

Joyce’s mother, Sally, on the other hand, was the exact opposite, her hair was grey, warring with the blue dye she frequented, with a more rounded nose, and full cheeks. Her hazel eyes twinkled with mischief, (as a grandmother, she was often encouraging Buffy’s tomboyish nature, much to Joyce’s chagrin) and joy. Sally was wearing the usual retiree “uniform” of a button down shirt and slacks. She had met Phil when she was a cigarette girl at the nightclub he had frequented in his bachelor days,

Sally had been a British subject, a resident of Coventry and orphaned at the age of 11 during the firebombing raids in 1941. She never forgave the Luftwaffe for killing her family, and to this day, would not buy anything German. She was soon adopted by an American family she was close to until they died off in the 1970s, and had had the typical American teen of the late-50s experiences.

Sally was a bon vivant. She lived life as full as she could, which considering she had just turned 67, was pretty remarkable. Rotary Club, PTA, gardening clubs, book clubs, an over 60 fitness society, Sally was always out there, doing something. She was very spontaneous and determined kind of woman, as she had been going to school at UCLA studying business when she met Phil, and to her credit, she got married, finished her degree, and raised a family while running the business side of Phil’s architecture firm as his office manager, and later COO. She was a remarkable, tough lady, having survived breast cancer, and a heart valve stint at the age of 65.
Giles was to their left, and then Ms. Calendar to his left. Both of them had spent most of the evening either reserved, making small talk with Joyce’s parents. Or, in Giles’s case, assisting Joyce in the kitchen. Right now, he had cleaned his glasses for the 5th time, something Giles did when he was of course, somewhat nervous. It was not an unusual affectation, but one that he had been doing more of late. What has got Giles so damn spooked? Joyce resolved to take it up with him after dinner, alone. No sense in spooking the hell out of everyone else.

A gentle clanking of the glass soon broke the stillness of the air. Xander rose, his sparkling apple cider firmly in hand. “Hello everyone, I got asked to say grace for reasons of which escape me.” That elicited a small chuckle in the room. “But I accepted on the principle that somebody had to. I will keep this short, but with more class than “Rub a Dub Dub, Yay God, Let’s Eat” which is sadly a staple at many a Harris gathering.” Xander wore a pained smile at that last reference, he then sat down, and bowed his head.

“God, I hope you are listening, and I know your creation has been a bit of a disappointment of late, but please, bless us all and give us reasons to find reasons to be grateful and humble in these trying times. Please remind us there are guys and girls in Poland right now, who would give their eye teeth to have a tenth of what we have. Please keep them in your hearts, God, and bless them in the sad, but necessary nature of what we as a nation have asked them to do. And please. Bring them home by next Thanksgiving.”
The table resounded with a muted cacophony of “amens”.

“So, let’s eat!” Joyce exclaimed.

And thus began the ritual of passing the various dishes around, making small talk as they did so, and comparing the food this year to dinner in Thanksgivings past.

412 Morton Ave
Torrance, CA
3 hours later

Spike the Bloody had really outsmarted himself, or at least, so he thought. The prophecy Dru was going on about was pretty clear. Humanity was getting ready for a self-inflicted fall. And well, who knew what opportunities that was going to open in the chaos? Opportunities Spike intended to take advantage of to the fullest.

But first, Spike and Dru needed to hide, both from the Slayer, and the coming nuclear attack. That said, where a bit of a pickle. Most of the desirable rural hideouts had been overrun with refugees, and while Spike was undead..even he was smart enough to know that 50-2 odds were going to suck, once somebody figured out who Dru and Spike were.

The property in Torrance, however, was a steal. It was close to an oil refinery, so nobody wanted to live there, in fact he’d never met the agent to actually buy the place or sign the could say the whole deal was a deal done over dinner. Spike smiled cruelly, she did look a little bit like that Slayer muppet, and her blood went very well with that desert wine Dru and I have been lugging around since 1805.

Spike loved it, the house was small, solid and had a furnished and strong basement. Perfect for any post nuclear unpleasantness. All he had to do was lure a few more folks..a postman, a meter reader, or perhaps even a cop, and he could have enough for weeks. He’d have to drain and preserve the blood somehow, but right now, he didn’t want to think too far ahead.

The best part, as an “industrially zoned” neighborhood (they were a mile from the oil refinery, and could see the lights of the place at night), the house got very few visitors..well, except for that pair of Jehova’s Witnesses, but they were like drinking salty grape juice. Just too damn sweet.

So far, so good, and with Dru sleeping more and more, and that “medication” from that Grimore psychologist who had owed Spike a favor, Dru was acting something like she was before Spike had tortured and killed her entire family right in front of her.

No, everything was as right as rain. And hey, if the lore was to be believed, some of the Japanese vampire clans had a right old time after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they’d drained whole groups of survivors, and said that radiation victims had a “wonderfully unique taste not unlike truffles.” Japanese vampires are bloody pooftahs, just tell me if it tastes good or not!
Spike walked over and looked out upon the ribbons of light stretching to the horizon as the sun finally slipped below the horizon. No, with luck, Dru is right..and we have our own feast to feed on all these fattened humans right after their annual Turkey cull. Ah, this was going to be tons of fun.
Spike turned on the ancient television, it looked as it had been purchased at least 3 decades ago, and barely held a signal..with the picture nothing short of atrocious, and a simply agonizing wait least it’s remote worked..when the keys didn’t stick.

The familiar face of Peter Jennings came into view behind the ABC news desk.

“Hello everyone, overnight, fierce fighting continued in and around Brest between elements of the 1st German Army, and several unidentified Soviet formations. The fighting is described as “heavy” and independent observers have released seismograph information suggesting there has been two more low yield detonations sometime last night.

We go now to George Freddy of ITN in Brussels."

The image switched to a man in a business suit with hawklike features and receding black hair. He wore an expensive suit, and held a mike that stated simply “ABC NEWS”.

“Hello Peter, The NATO Council has been meeting round the clock since the tactical nuclear exchanges began last week. We do not know what, if anything substantive has come of these talks, or if a ceasefire offer has been made to the Soviets, But rumors have been rife around NATO Headquarters of everything from Soviet nuclear escalation expected within the next 12 hours, to the Soviets have been making their own ceasefire offers through Switzerland.”

“So, do we know much of anything, George?” Peter inquired, a frown creasing his face.

“No Peter, we do not. All I can say is that there is a press conference expected 1200 tomorrow local time by the NATO Headquarters PAO. He has stated there will be a major announcement made at that time.”

“This has been George Freddy, ITN, from Brussels”.

“Thank you, George.” Peter Jennings then turned back to the viewer “ABC will of course, carry that news conference live when it occurs. In other news, The Senate is opening an investigation into “war profiteering”..”
Author of "Distant Winds of a Forgotten World" available now as part of the Cannon Publishing Military Sci-Fi / Fantasy Anthology: Spring 2019 (Cannon Publishing Military Anthology Book 1)

"Red Star, Burning Streets" by Cavalier Books, 2020 - EpochXperience - Contributing Blogger since October 2020. (A Division of SJR Consulting).
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