Virginia Bair


Virginia Bair is an Erie-based author, penning Middle Grade books and the occasional strange short story. There is a strong chance she’ll tell you about her rabbit, regardless of whether or not you ask. She also runs her own business called The Creaky Spine Bindery.


Virginia Bair is a 30 year old writer from Pennsylvania. She pens books and reads as many as she can while hanging out with her pet rabbit.She is represented by Cate Hart of the Harvey Klinger Literary Agency.Her work is primarily focused on Middle Grade and Adult Fantasy. Interested in an eerie mix of all things cozy and macabre? Then you've found the right place.She’s also a bookbinder and design binder, specializing in all things moss.


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They Came

Written April 2021 for NYC Midnight
CW: Death/Gore
Genre: HorrorAge: 16+They took the cats first, but Gregory did not notice.He was too deeply burrowed beneath the ground, pounding away with his mallet in the dim light of a flickering candle.Gregory was building something marvelous. It would show everyone up above that he was right. They would see his sprawling landscape and pause their humdrum lives to listen to him at last.Gregory did not notice the missing cats, but the mice did. They scattered freely across porches and yards, still weary of birds but basking in their freedom, however fleeting it might seem. A little field mouse crept in through the open window of Mrs. Maplewood’s back garden, wearily sniffing the air as if it all might be a terrible trick, but the mouse soon relaxed. There were no cats in this house anymore.“Perry, dinner!” Mrs. Maplewood called out back, scanning her eyes across the lawn for her little orange kitten. He did not come, and she sighed and turned to go back inside. Sometimes Perry stayed away for a night or two. He would return to her when he missed her company and the ease of a fresh bowl of tuna. She would be better at keeping the windows shut next time.It was a noisy night without the predators lurking. The missing cats were hidden beneath the chatters, but the unsettling feeling of something lacking began to shift through the shadows and whisper in sleeping ears.Next went the bees, though Gregory remained none-the-wiser.He stirred his cement, grumbling to himself down below in the dark, thinking bitterly of all those who had scorned him in their ungrateful refusals.The flowers drooped without the bees, sagging under the heat of the summer sun. Mr. Evens cupped his daffodils between his palms and frowned. “I gave you plenty of water,” he promised them, shaking his head. He couldn’t fathom a life without his gardens, but his green thumbs could not procure a miracle. Mr. Evens could not replace the bees, and when he finally looked, there was no sign of their humming buzz drifting through the breezy air.On a Wednesday, the dogs disappeared.The missing dogs were impossible to explain away, but still Gregory took no notice. His electric saw ran until it sweltered with exhausted heat, and still he ran it longer. He did not hear the shouts and whistles of the searchers running down the sidewalks.Cats are cunning hiders and the bees oft neglected, but none could still dismiss it when they awoke without dogs. Allison peered blearily at her alarm clock, gasping at the sight of a glowing red 11:34 shining back at her. She had not slept so late since college, and at first she had no idea how she’d managed it. She always woke before 8:00, even on her days off. Howie wouldn’t dream of missing his breakfast. He licked her cheek with a regularity far more dependable than any alarm clock.Allison rushed from her bed, stumbling on overslept legs. “Howie,” she called, worried he must be sick. He wasn’t in her room, so she fled down the hall, but there was no sign of the german shepherd on his favorite rug either. “Howie,” she tried louder, but there wasn’t so much as a whine. Her massive brown bear of a dog had nowhere to hide, but still she scoured behind couches and climbed into closets. She frantically unlocked the door and called out into the yard.Her very best boy never came.Allison took to the streets, still in her pajamas with tears rolling down her cheeks. If only she hadn’t slept so late. Mrs. Maplewood rushed up to her holding a flyer for a missing orange cat.“Have you seen my Perry anywhere? He hasn’t been home in days.” The old woman trembled, crinkling her flyer as she thrust it towards Allison.The woman shook her head. “No, sorry. I’m actually out looking for Howie. It’s like he’s vanished,” she shivered.Mrs. Maplewood sighed and gestured up and down the street. “How could they all have gone?” And at first, Allison was confused, but then she began to notice the flyers overflowing along the sides of every lamppost and the neighbors out calling different names.“Is it all the pets in the neighborhood?” she asked, feeling a chill take hold of her spine.“Annie Langford says her rabbit’s still hopping around her house, and the Shepherds say their fish haven’t disappeared, but that’s it. The rest are all gone.”By the next day, they had come for the rabbit and fish too.Enough frantic neighbors called the police for a uniformed man to finally arrive, grimacing into his oversized thermos of coffee. He suggested flyers. Mentioned animal rescues they could call to see if any of the missing pets had been found. But the neighbors knew they would not find them there, and they watched the officer shrug off their kidnapping theories as he got in his car and sped off without a second glance.Fish didn’t simply walk free from their tanks and when, they began to wonder, was the last time anyone saw an ant?“It’s that Gregory,” Sam spat, sipping from his beer. “He’s mad we voted against his dumb idea, and now he wants revenge.”Mrs. Maplewood glanced uneasily at the storm drain. They could all hear the little tings of his hammer echoing up above the streets. Extension cords ran through the rusty old grate, stretched over the sidewalk, and disappeared into the grass.“You think he’s taken them down there?” she whispered, as if he might be listening.“Gregory wouldn’t,” Allison insisted.“You just don’t want your husband in any trouble,” Mrs. Shepherd snapped.“How would he even do it?” Allison pressed. “Sure, maybe he could have pulled off stealing all the cats and dogs without us seeing him, though I’ve never known him to be so quiet a day in his life.” They paused, wincing at a particularly loud pound of the hammer. “But I know I’m not the only one noticing the insects are gone. Do you really think a man like Gregory could wrangle the bees?”And no, no one trusted Gregory to do much of anything at all.Down in the underbelly of Slatehill Street, though still ignorant to the disappearances above, Gregory was having a very similar conversation with himself.“They’ve never seen me, but soon they’ll have no choice. No one can ignore someone saving their lives.”And again he started up the saw.On Friday, they came for the children.The twin girls who always came to play with Gregory’s dog were gone from their beds by sunrise, but he had not slept that night, too focused on his creation to pause. One year and seven days he’d spent building beneath the concrete.He still remembered the day they came to him, creeping along the mossy brick wall like shadows. He couldn’t really see them if he tried to look, but somehow he understood they were there, like angels. They’d never named themselves, but Gregory had gotten a feeling that he should follow their words. They had warned him that something was coming to Slatehill Street. Something nefarious and doused in the dark.Gregory understood at once that it was up to him to warn his neighbors. A builder, he’d done work on nearly every house on the block. He was respected. It hadn’t taken much effort to convince them all to gather. He spent days locked in his office, pouring over blueprint designs. He would build them a fortress right smack in the road. That would keep out the danger. That would protect them.When the night of his meeting arrived, Gregory had not even told his wife what he intended to discuss. Howie sat snoozing at his feet, comfortable in the presence of the close-knit neighbors all crammed around the various corners of his family room.He told them quietly of his conversation with the shadows. He clicked on the projector and plastered his plans on the wall for all to see, proud of his accomplishment. It was a foolproof design.“Are you out of your mind?” Mr. Shepherd laughed. “You want us to let you build a big ugly building in the middle of the road? How would we get to work if we couldn’t drive anywhere?”“How would we get groceries?” Mrs. Maplewood squeaked.“You wouldn’t,” Gregory explained simply. “Don’t you understand? It isn’t safe. None of it is. Our only chance is if we barricade inside this.”“For how long?” someone asked, too deep in the crowd for Gregory to make out.“Forever, I suppose,” he shrugged. It seemed such a small price to pay for their survival. Gregory glanced around the room and frowned. Where were his cheers? Where were his thanks?“Gregory, darling, maybe we should call Dr. Climer in the morning,” Allison said. She put her hand on his arm and tried to lead him out of the room with a gentle coaxing smile.“For what?”But he didn’t need an answer. He could see it in her eyes. She hadn’t believed a word of it. He looked around, grasping for support, but there was none to be found. No one was taking it seriously. Not one of them.“Let’s have a vote,” he tried. “Everyone write your vote on a notecard—yes if you’re in favor of my project and no if you’re not.” He grabbed a stack of blank notecards from the kitchen junk drawer and passed them around with a handful of pens. Everyone looked reluctantly at his offerings.“Gregory…” Allison tried.He shook his head. “No, no. Everyone should get to weigh in anonymously.”Slowly and with a murmur of annoyance, his neighbors took turns filling out their cards. Allison collected them and quietly counted through each one. She looked up with a sigh and Gregory didn’t need to see the cards to know what each one would say.“I see,” he said quietly, clearing his throat. “There won’t be a need for that, Allison. I’m sorry I wasted everyone’s time.” He left the room and walked up the stairs to his bed, nothing but silence left behind as they all watched the madman retreat. Not even Howie followed.By the time Allison had cleared her home with more than a dozen repeated apologies, Gregory had moved underground. Life in the neighborhood resumed, calmed that the disruption to their peace had taken himself away.The men went next.Those remaining gathered in the road, sobbing for help, but none arrived. Gregory had not been the only one oblivious when the bees disappeared, so why should the rest of the world notice one little street?Gregory was on the brink of finishing his discovery. A new kind of build—one so radical, he’d tossed aside his blueprints, guided solely by their voices in the shadows. His candles casted only the dimmest bit of light upon the cloaked creation.If he could not hide them, he would protect them.He worked tirelessly through the night, binding and weaving, stitching and cementing, until finally he set down his tools and began to cry. It was completed, the creation of a year’s work that would revive his name.Gregory ran to the ladder that lead towards the street and climbed up, pushing back the drain cover with a heave of exhaustion.“I’ve done it!” he croaked, shocked to find so much time living in whispers had left his voice so weak. He squinted against the unfamiliar sun and began to run towards his home. It was as if he’d never left—the perfect lawn, the hedges always trimmed so exactly. He couldn’t contain his smile as he rushed for the door and knocked, pounding with his fist and patting the doorbell.No one came.“Howie?” His voice was a little clearer now, having broken the barrier. Allison must have been away at work. Gregory rushed around the side of the house and up to the back door, peering through the glass for a peek at his dog, who could never resist the chance to bark at an intruder.Still, no one came.The hairs began to rise on the back of his neck, an uneasy feeling settling in his stomach. Gregory took the spare key from under a potted plant and opened the back door, stepping into a house that was far too still. Only the refrigerator buzzed steadily in the corner.“Allison? Howie?” But it was useless. They weren’t home for his great unveiling.Gregory pressed on, running across the street to Mrs. Maplewood. Retired and widowed, she was nearly always home. She would be glad for his interruption, he thought. But her doorway remained just as still. From house to house he ran, silence stretching like a sickening cloud, and the gloomy doom began to rise higher and higher within his chest. Something was wrong.“How could it have come for them all while I was right here?” he called to the sky. It occurred to him for the first time that he’d never asked who “they” were. He’d never asked the shadows what was coming, had trusted so implicitly that he would finish in time. He’d seen the chance for excitement, and he hadn’t questioned why.Gregory fell to his knees as a sob ripped free, trying desperately to tell himself it would be all right. He’d been alone a year already. It was their own fault for refusing to listen. He could still finish what he’d started and save himself. He grabbed the dynamite he’d readied and set it in the center of the street, covering his ears while he waited for the explosion to tear open the concrete ceiling.He watched, waiting as the dust cleared, wondering what his creation would even look like. For a year, the shadows had passed him supplies he could barely make out in the dark, telling him how to use them, where to place them for the ultimate success.A squeal tore through the air, and up raised a mechanical arm through the gaping hole. He would not be alone. He had his creation, the monster he’d made just for them.If he could not hide them, he would protect them.His monster clawed its way up onto the street, shaking aside the gathering dust and standing impossibly tall in the sunlight, revealed for the first time.“You’re beautiful,” Gregory gasped, stepping closer.The monster turned his way and looked down with the last piece he’d added, a head he’d thought might be formed of corn silk and clay, but now could see was only too familiar.Gregory fell to his knees, clawing at his throat as he took in the decaying head of his wife. Along the cement arms were clumps of fur and other discarded limbs, all mashed together into an unrecognizable mass. A long, hysterical laugh bubbled forth. They hadn’t really gone anywhere at all.He had never thought to ask what materials he used.He had never thought to wonder who they needed protection from.