Strigoi (Part 2)
Maybelle Webster’s favorite time of year was summer with spring being a close second. She loved sitting on her porch with a tall glass of iced tea and the day’s paper, basking in the sun. That morning when she stepped outside to get the day’s newspaper off of the porch, she was taken aback by the warm weather that greeted her. Living in Virginia for more than fifty years she was used to unusually rare warm days during the winter months. In early March just yesterday it was forty degrees, so cold that Maybelle had to turn her oven on and leave it open in order to keep the entire house warm. Now she stood on the porch with her hands on her hips, confused at the sudden overnight change of climate. “The weatherman sholl said it was supposed to be freezin’ again today”, she said to herself. “Well, the good Lord is the only real weatherman anyway”. Maybelle plucked the newspaper off of the porch and sat down on the porch chair, shuffling through it.
At seventy-years old, Maybelle was a widow with one son named Darren, a marine stationed in Korea. Her son visited once since he left for the Marines at eighteen years old and that was when he graduated from boot camp. But he always called home once month just to let Maybelle know that he was doing alright. During the holidays he sent her gifts and money but it wasn’t the same as actually spending the holidays with him. Whenever she asked Darren when he was coming to visit, he would either change the subject or abruptly end the call. The only things that kept Maybelle from dying of loneliness at her age were her biweekly bridge club and her neighbors, a young married couple who just had a baby girl a few months back. Lina and Daniel were like her children and Cheeky their infant, was the grandchild she always wanted but would most likely never have. Living in the small town of Stamburg, Virginia it wasn’t surprising that children raised there would leave to go to college, the military, or for some adventure to never come back, not even to visit. So when the young couple moved in a few years ago, Maybelle thought it was God answering her prayers of not dying a lonely old woman.
Maybelle often baby sat Cheeky just to allow Lina and Daniel to have a date night, or when Lina wanted to do her morning jog and the weather was too bad to take the baby in her stroller. Cheeky made her feel young and vibrant, filling the old woman’s heart with joy. As she sat on the porch reading the paper, she smiled to herself thinking about her friends next door. “I’m going to bake them some of my apple cider cookies they love so much”, she thought. Maybelle was reading an article about a dog being declared a hero in Richmond for saving a child from drowning, when she spotted something moving across the street out of the corner of her eye. When she put the paper down and looked over, there was nothing there. There was nothing but trees and wooded areas surrounding the entire town, so she wasn’t really alarmed that she spotted something move in the woods out of her peripheral vision. Maybelle chalked it up to a deer catching her eye and running off in the trees. Not to mention, there were also black bears and foxes roaming around as well. Maybelle went back to reading her newspaper, when she spotted something again and this time it caused her to gasp in fear.
A man was standing at the edge of the woods wearing a long black tattered coat, a faded black fedora hat pulled so low, it covered the top half of his face. He was just standing there facing her direction from across the street. Although Maybelle could not see his eyes, she felt him staring at her. The man was approximately six foot two, slender build,though she really couldn’t tell from the coat buttoned all the way to his neck. Maybelle felt her heart beating out of her chest as she became overwhelmed with fear. The man stood there, still as a statue, just staring at her from across the road. She couldn’t put a finger on his race or nationality because his head was lowered so low and his collar pulled up, a tattered scarf wrapped around his neck. Maybelle let the newspaper slowly slide off of her lap as she scooted to the end of the porch chair, prepared to get up and run in her house, slam and lock her door, and run to the phone to call the sheriff.
Out of towners came to Stamburg to visit all the time. Some to visit relatives and friends and sometimes people stopped through while traveling to other parts of Virginia or to another state. But this man was no visitor just having a walk enjoying a rare warm day in winter. From the chill Maybelle felt deep within her bones, this man was an intruder in this town. An elderly woman, she was worried that she might move too slow. That by the time she got up from the chair and walked the couple of steps it took to reach her front door, the man would be in her front yard, walking up the three steps to the porch. But then the man begin to walk across the street towards her in a slow stride, and that gave Maybelle the motivation needed to jump up out of her chair, and run in her house, slamming and locking the door behind her. Maybelle ran as fast as her arthritic legs could carry her to the cordless phone that sat on the base in her kitchen. She dialed 911 and ran to the living room window that faced the front yard and woods across the road. The man was gone.