TICK-TOCK is the sound coming from the Grandfather clock. I draw the curtain aside and look down onto the cobbled street. Pitch black. Gas flames don’t dance and flicker in this part of town. No one lingers in the street below. Not a soul. TICK TOCK.
It’s All Hallows Eve, Festival of the Dead. It’s cold. And icy, and almost time. TICK-TOCK
My fingers tremble against the rich velvet curtain. What will I do if she doesn’t come before dawn? What will I do? Unease coils like a snake in the pit of my stomach waiting to strike. TICK-TOCK
Footsteps on stair treads, followed by a faint tapping on the door tell me she is here. I take a deep breath, inhale the air. Human smells, decaying human, stench of rotting flesh. The tapping is repeated. I open the door to find her standing there. I stare. Just a girl this time, maybe twelve or thirteen, smiling, cheeks rosy red, eyes ocean blue.
‘Good evening,’ she says in her innocent child’s voice,’ I’m here to save your soul.’
It’s the truth. I open the door wide. I must invite her in, as I always do, this child with the hauntingly beautiful skin, the fairest hair, the fancy clothes, and the dark bottomless eyes.
‘Come in.’ TICK-TOCK
She steps over the threshold into the room, disguised in her human skin. I close the door behind her and her eyes follow mine. She turns her head towards the four poster bed, where the innocent infant slumbers, in a drug induced sleep, prepared by my own hand.
The girl looks back over her shoulder and smiles. Macabre and mocking, the transformation has begun. Evil dark eyes flash me a warning.
‘You can leave us now, your soul is saved…again. Her skin splits and peels away before my tear filled eyes. Revealing scales that glisten, with putrid slime, and her voice grows hoarse.
‘Go…go now!’ She screeches. I escape, fleeing down the stairs, and I hear the crack of bones, the ripping of cloth and the howl of death that follows.
I am a monster. TICK-TOCK