"Live carefully my friend and remember, if you're not the predator, you are the prey"

Julia and Laura were supposed to be at home studying Bible verses for the Easter service, but on this Good Friday evening in 1910 they were determined to experience the full moon at their favorite place called Indian Rock. The twelve-year-old friends hiked to the foothills of Poteau Mountain conjuring up stories of the ancient tribes who carved the symbols on the stone. When Indian Rock was fully illuminated by moonlight, a magical, beautiful feeling began to flow through their bodies.

Within weeks, both girls began dreaming about strange people at Indian Rock who don't look like Indians. When the dreams evolved into nightmarish scenes of a man being savagely tortured, both feel he is reaching out to them for help. As the frightening dreams become more than their sleeping minds can endure, they wake with the sensation from the night of the full moon.

Powerful forces have known the origin and meaning of the symbols for centuries and fiercely guard against anyone discovering the truth. In 1958, Julia's fourteen-year-old granddaughter Michelle disobeyed her parents and went to Indian Rock one evening with two older boys. When the dazed boys return without her, looking like they've been savagely beaten, the meaning and power of the symbols begins to be revealed. This is the Legend of Michelle Sands, the Indian Rock Vampire.

 

Chapter 1. February 11, 1958 - The pretty young girl

“Hey, Uncle Bill. Thanks for saving me a seat,” said Ronnie Majors as he sat between his aunt and uncle on the second row of bleachers in the Poteau, Oklahoma High School gymnasium. “This ought to be a good game.”

Ronnie’s Uncle, “Big Bill” Armstrong said, “My money is always on the small school. How are you bettin’ tonight?”

“Bet with you Uncle Bill? I know better, but I’m sure Poteau is gonna win.”

Bill laughed and put his arm around his nephew. “Good answer Ron. You’d lose if you bet with me and you know it.”

Ronnie’s aunt, Lou Armstrong, leaned across in front of her nephew and said, “Bill, stop talking about gambling.”

Bill nudged Ronnie and said, “If you think bettin’ with me is dangerous, try crossin’ your Aunt Lou.” Bill and Ronnie both laughed as the crowd noise drowned them out when a player from Howe sank a big shot.

The dozen high schools with basketball school programs in LeFlore county always look forward to the annual tournament. The large, medium and small schools compete with an opportunity to win the coveted county championship, which is often won by a smaller school.

“How’s baseball practice going?” asked Lou. “You boys are probably looking forward to some nice spring weather.”

“Yeah, we are,” replied Ronnie. “We’ve been freezing our tails off out there but I love it. This team is the best I’ve played on all through high school.”

“They better be good,” said Bill. “Our abstract company donated money to the booster club for new uniforms and equipment this year.”

“Oh Bill,” interrupted Lou. “Stop pressuring the boy. He’s gonna make us proud like he does every year. Isn’t that right Ronnie?”

“Thanks Aunt Lou. And thank you too, Uncle Bill. The guys really appreciate your support. We’re gonna take state this year if we keep playin’ like we are now.”

The crowd roared again when a Poteau player sank a basket. Bill turned to Ronnie and asked, “How are you and that lil Nancy gal doin’? She’s a real cutie.”

Lou interrupted again, “Now Bill, don’t embarrass him like that. He doesn’t want to discuss his love life with you.” Lou turned to Ronnie and continued, “You’re taking that pretty little girl to the Valentine dance, aren’t you?”

Ronnie smiled and said, “Yeah, we’re going to the dance, but I gotta tell you, I’m not so sure how we’re really doin’. All she talks about is weddings. Heck, I just turned seventeen in December and got my car. She kinda scares me talkin’ about wedding stuff all the time.”

Bill Armstrong laughed and wrapped his arm around Ronnie’s neck in a wrestling hold and said, “Lou Honey, he’s just gettin’ started with his Tom Cattin’. He ain’t ready for the taste of weddin’ cake. She’s got the hook out for you boy. You better run like hell.”

Bill and Ronnie both laughed. Lou put her arm around Ronnie and said, “I can’t blame her. He looks like Elvis Presley. All the girls are after him.”

“Thanks for the compliment,” said Ronnie. Just then his friend Larry Pate drew a foul and Ronnie yelled, “Hey Larry, flatten number seven next time.”

Bill released Ronnie and said, “That’s the spirit. Never let ‘em see you get mad over a call. Just bust their butt next chance you get, ain’t that right?”

“You watch,” said Ronnie. “He’ll lay that guy out before the game is over. Larry has been gettin’ an elbow from him. The ref only called a foul when Larry gave it back.”

“You guys are terrible,” said Lou. “It’s almost halftime. I’m heading to the concession stand. Do you boys want anything?”

“No thanks,” answered Ronnie.

“I’m good, too,” said Bill.

After Lou left, Ronnie nudged his uncle and asked, “Do you know the name of the Howe cheerleader standing over on the far right?”

“The one on the end with long dark hair put up in a ponytail?”

“Yeah. Look, she’s turning around talking to a lady in the stands.”

“Oh my goodness. She couldn’t be the granddaughter of …” Bill slapped Ronnie on the knee and said, “Yes, I know the girl. The woman she’s talkin’ to is her grandmother, Julia Stone. The one next to Julia is the girls mother, Amanda Sands. Her father, “Jonnie Boy” Sands is next to Amanda. Damn, she’s cute and all grown up, too. No wonder, considering her heritage. Her grandmother was a real looker in her day and still looks good for her age. Amanda’s a nice lookin’ woman, too. Her name is Michelle. Man, I haven’t seen her since she was a little kid. What’s the matter? She caught your Tom Cat eye?”

“Well, she is cute. I’ve never seen her before. She must be a junior or senior. I thought maybe she just moved here or something.”

“Let me see,” Bill said, counting on his fingers. “I remember when she was born. That puts her about… oh hell, Ronnie. You ain’t gonna like it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well boy, looks can be deceiving. She looks your age but she ain’t no more fourteen.”

“Fourteen,” Ronnie exclaimed, “You’re kidding, right? If that girl is fourteen, she’s the best lookin’ fourteen year old I’ve ever seen.”

Bill laughed and said, “Calm down Tom Cat. I ain’t kiddin’. I know her entire family and remember exactly when she was born. She’ll be havin’ her fifteenth birthday pretty soon.”

“I still can’t believe it. She’s really something.”

Still chuckling at Ronnie’s reaction Bill said, “I know some twenty year old gals who’d kill to be put together like that. But I’m tellin’ you boy, instead of havin’ your eyes on her, you’ll be better off stickin’ with the Poteau cheerleader. She’ll cause you a lot less trouble, even with all the marriage talk.”

“What do you mean?"

“First, Michelle is only fourteen. Damn, I know you like ‘em young and dumb, but fourteen? Plus, I been hearin’ some rumors about shenanigans you, Larry and other guys have been pullin’ with freshmen girls. You better be careful. If you get in that kinda trouble, I doubt if even all my connections will save your butt.”

“Don’t believe a word of it Uncle Bill. Those freshmen girls are throwin’ themselves at us. Anyway, what’s the harm in showin’ ‘em a good time when they’re beggin’ for it”?

“Well boy, you still needed to watch it. If you try somethin’ with that one over there, her old man and the rest of the family will wanna cut you into pieces.”

Ronnie started to say something, but Bill stopped him and continued. “You damn sure don’t wanna cross Julia Stone. She and I went to school together in Howe. She helped me with my schoolwork. I always tried to sit across from her during tests to look at her answers. After high school she went to college in Tulsa and married a guy from there who was a lawyer. They settled here but he was killed in an auto accident a few years later.”

Bill paused, then continued, “Julia showed everyone, including me, she could handle her own business. I have more respect for Julia Stone than any other woman I know, except Lou of course.”

“Wow Uncle Bill. I’ve never heard you talk about anyone like that. Was her grandmother your girlfriend?”

“No, it wasn’t like that.” Bill smiled and continued, “Julia Stone’s granddaughter. She’s really something, but I’m not kiddin’ you, Ron, you need to leave her alone. I know she looks all grown up, and you boys may have run through the freshmen girls to have your way with in Poteau. Michelle’s just a kid and you need to steer clear for your own good.”

Lou returned from the concession stand and asked, “How’s the game going?”

Bill scooted over to give her more room to sit down and said, “Well honey, Ronnie and I have been people watchin’ and kinda lost track.”

“Get back in it. We gotta win the first round so we don’t have to fight through the losers bracket all week.” She sat her pop down, put her hands on the sides of her face, and at the top of her lungs yelled, “Let’s go Pirates.”

Bill leaned toward Ronnie and said, “Lou cheers the Pirates like she was born a Poteau girl. You’d never know she’s from Fort Smith.” Leaning even closer he continued, “About the other deal, you’re better off to steer clear.”

 Ronnie nodded in agreement as the three of them focused on the game.

 

Inspiration to write The Legend of Michelle Sands. In October, 2005, I was in a Tulsa hospital room with my wife, Becky. We were waiting for a doctor and staff to discuss options for Becky to begin dialysis, both of us in shock trying to process what it meant. She was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1998.

I was staring out a window trying to think about anything other than Becky starting dialysis. I joke about my writing being the result of taking notes on conversations going on between the voices in my head. That day, two voices pulled very random things from my past.

Voice 1. I grew up in Southeastern Oklahoma near the Heavener Runestone. When first discovered by French explorers, the eight markings on the monolithic stone were attributed to native people in the area and it was called Indian Rock. In the 20th century, the markings were attributed to Vikings who explored North America one thousand years ago.

Voice 2. I was a big fan of the Dark Shadows TV show in the late 1960s and early 70s.

Voices 1 and 2 posed the question, “What if the Heavener Runestone markings have something to do with Vampires?”

I barely thought about it and didn’t write anything down between 2005 and 2009. When Becky died on Thanksgiving Day, 2008, I was unemployed, physically ill and mentally drained. In January, 2009, family and friends encouraged me to attend grief counselling. Instead, I began writing the story of a beautiful teenage girl from southeastern Oklahoma discovering the meaning of the symbols on Indian Rock which gave her immortality. I finished the first 80,000 word draft of The Legend of Michelle Sands in three months.

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