The small community of Bethen, usually quite orderly, was now
stirred up like a nest of angry hornets. A constant buzzing was
heard everywhere in the town. In low murmurs, everyone was
discussing the particular tragedy of one Mr. Elvin Johnson.
Down at the local pub, the Johnson's regular nursemaid was
weaving an unbelievable tale. Villagers were pouring in, buying
drinks and getting close enough to hear.
"Well, I was turnin' into bed after getting the master his usual gin,
'cause that's his favorite. The mistress came down the hall and bid
me good night and all. She looked real ghost-like, the candle makin'
her face look sunk in and hollow. That's when I start gettin' this
creepy feelin', like mayhap somethin' is gonna happen, somethin'
bad, ya know?
"So, I go to me room, off the kitchen, and I get meself ready for bed.
I went into the kitchen to fetch some water. Well, as I was headin'
back to me room, I hears a noise. It's the little mistress, callin' for
her da. I think to meself, 'Mayhap summat is wrong with the young
'un. I should go an' check on her.'
"I go down the hall an' I hear her da comin' into her quarters. He starts
speakin' to her real annoyed-like, an' he's tellin' her to go to bed and
all that. That's when I get that chill down my spine."
She paused her litany for dramatic effect. She could hear the crowd go
silent, drawing bated breaths. She took a long draught from her glass,
then cleared her throat.
"Everythin' seemed to go real quiet. I was quite nervous when I heard her
father stop talking. I heard a soft thud. Now that made me shiver. Despite
that, I went over all quiet an' peeked in.
"My heart nearly stopped. The little mistress was there, sittin' on the floor,
covered with blood, and she was as quiet as if she was attendin' one
of her ma's parties. Her da lay on the floor next ta her, an' there was a
great pool o' blood. She didn't seemed shocked or nothin'. That's what
probably scared'd me the most."
She paused, which the patrons took advantage of. "I know that girl was
un'atural," said a woman off to the right of the nursemaid. "I heard she
never cried once when she was a wee babe. That's bad luck, it is."
"They say the Devil came an' took her soul so she could get un'atural pow'rs
in return. She'll prob'ly kill ev'ryone in town if we don't do somethin'," a
man in a faded cloak shouted over the noise. "She should be locked up good
The nursemaid nodded in agreement. "That she should. Little Skarla is a strange
un', as strange as they come. She went an' brought death to her pa. Her
ma had better watch out."
Everyone agreed. Another round of beer was called for, and a long dicussion
was held into the wee hours. By morning, it was unanimous in agreement
that Skarla was Devil spawn and she had killed her father.
At the Johnson manor house, Skarla was in a small room with her mother
and a police officer. Skarla was sitting quietly on a stool, dressed in a clean
lace nightgown, her chocolate-brown curls falling around her angelic features.
Her mother was obviously upset, her clothes and features in disarray. She
was pacing in front of a wide bay window, a hanky held to her cheeks where
tears kept falling; her face was as white as a sheet.
Serena Johnson glanced briefly at her daughter, which caused her to begin
shaking violently. In a weak, quivering voice, Serena said, "Skarla, tell the
man what happened to Daddy. Tell him what you told me, alright?"
Skarla nodded once, her perfect porcelain features remaining blank. She
appeared to be four years old, but she spoke clearly to the officer, her
dark maroon eyes staring at the wall ahead of her. The officer pulled out
a pad of paper, pen poised.
He scribbled furiously as she began to speak. "I was lying awake in bed. All the
lamps were darkened. There was only a full moon that I could see from my
"A man was standing there. He wore dark clothes, like those of a gentleman,
but his hair was light in color. He was facing me. I wasn't afraid of him. He
held out his hand and I took it. He pulled me into his arms and looked into
"His eyes were... dark, like burgundy, and he didn't blink. It was as if he was
looking for something, something hard to find.
"He took my arm, not even looking away, and then he took a syringe full of
dark fluid, injecting it into my arm." Here she breifly showed the officer a
bruised area on the inside of her forearm, where could be seen a small dot
that trickled a little blood. She did not say anything about how the beautiful
stranger had bit her throat, sucking some of her blood. He had disguised the
punctures by making it look like a shallow cut, but she knew she would have
She continued, "Afterwards, he whispered, 'You are the one. You are mine now.'
I don't know what he meant by that. Then he bid me to call my father, which
I did." She paused, recalling the moment.
It felt as if her veins were flowing with fire. It had burned, but it had felt good.
Her senses had been heightened, every single detail coming clear through her
senses. There had also been a terrible thirst. She... She had wanted the man's
He told her to call her father, and she had complied without question. Her father
had come in, telling her to go back to bed, but he had gone quiet when he had
seen who was holding her.
The man had acted unnaturally quickly. He had broken her father's neck without
a sound, barely jarring her. He had then knelt with her and had cut the dead
man's throat, telling her to drink. She had meant to do as he said, but instead
lunged for the man's arm and dug her sharpened incisors into him. He had
been surprised, but had quickly pulled her off, blood dribbling down her front.
She had reached out for him, but he had set her down on the floor. He had
seemed puzzled and disconcerted, but he had instrsucted her to not speak
the truth of what had happened to anyone. He then kissed her brow fleetingly
before he had disappeared.
"He killed my father by cutting his throat. Then he escaped through the first floor
window of my bedchamber." She stayed silent then, while the officer jotted
down a few more notes in his pad.
"I'm going to ask a series of questions now, Miss Johnson. Do you swear to tell
the truth and nothing but the truth?" he asked, turning to a fresh sheet.
Skarla nodded mutely. She would tell only what he would want to hear.
"Alright then. What time was it when this man appeared to you?"
"It was almost one in the morning."
"Did it say this on your clock?"
"Did this man seem threatening in any way?"
"No." She said this quite firmly.
"Did the man look familiar at all?"
"No. He could have been a foreigner."
"Did he want to harm you at all?"
"No." She said this firmly.
"What do you think he injected into you?"
"I don't know, but I don't seem to be the worse off."
"Hmm... Why do you think he killed your father?"
"I don't know."
"You must have some idea."
"Sir, perhaps he was a hired assassin who sought to use me as bait to take my
father off guard. Not veryone liked my father." She sighed.
"Name some people."
She shrugged. "Jethro Adams. Rufus Sampson. Zachariah Truth. Gideon Prewitt.
Rufus Philomon. They competed with my father for power on the Bethen Council
Board. Politics are corruptible. Perhaps you should ask them if they sent
The officer jotted down the names she had listed. "Thank you, Miss Johnson, for
your help. I'll make another house call if I have any more questions or a lead.
Good night to you. And you, Mrs. Johnson," he said, tipping his hat to her.
Serena didn't seem to hear him, or she was ignoring him, for she continued
to pace while staring out the window.
When he left, Skarla vanished into her room, where she lay on her bed. She took
out a beautiful garnet pendant from under her nightgown and began to play
with it, its silver chain glinting in the soft light above her bed.
The necklace was another thing she had foregone mentioning. It would arise to
more questions, and then she probably wouldn't be allowed to keep it. Why
would the man have given it to her anyway?
She supposed he must have slipped it onto her when she hadn't been looking.
She gazed into the gem's depths, as if trying to see the answers, but it availed
to nothing except more questions.
Suddenly, a story she had heard from her nursemaid ran through her mind. "If
ya don' want nothin' bad to happen to ya, you had best stay in bed, little
mistress," her nursemaid had said, wagging a finger at her.
She had been three years old and curious about what the servants did after dark.
Her nursemaid had caught her trying to sneak out, and had told her what
every mother in the village told there children.
"It's a good thin' I'm warnin' ya now. Ya let yer curiousity get the better of ya,
and the Vampyre will come an' take ya. He'll suck ya dry or make ya into his
slave. Ya won't never see yer ma or pa again, so stay in bed!"
The man had told he to drink from her father's body. She remembered her sharp
teeth biting into the man's cold, pale skin... and the need to quench a terrible
thirst... She had sucked his blood...
She gasped. Was she a vampyre? She suddenly ran a finger over her top teeth,
but nothing seemed sharp.
Maybe that part had been a dream... She began to fiddle with the garnet again.
No... Then what about that dark fluid he had injected her with? It had changed
her, if only briefly...
She sighed, exasperated that her thoughts had given her no new ideas. Well,
there was the vampyre theory now...
She yawned, tired by the night's events. It had was almost four a.m. now...
Curling under her heavy coverlet, she drifted off into a dreamless sleep.