The Orphanage: Introduction

It was a bedtime tale told only at the bequest of a brave child. Some parents even used it as a threat to keep their children at bay, but even then it was a rarity. When a parent said to their child, “If you don’t clean your room Viola will come to take you away,” a prayer was uttered afterward, those of a certain faith would cross their chests in hopes that certain ears did not catch the threat on the wind.

Over the years the disappearances near the old orphanage had not gone unnoticed. It was a threat, but the legend of Viola the child snatching demon had become more than just a superstition, for Red Rock, it seemed real.

When Jamie asked his mom to tell him Viola’s story before bed on this particular night, it was understandable why she was hesitant. To her it was more than just a story, but in the end she yielded. Bending over her seven year old son in his small wooden bed she tucked his comforter tight around his body. She kissed him on the forehead and sat at the edge of his bed with a palm resting on his stomach. He looked up at her, brown eyes wide and expectant. The light from his bed side lamp flickered in the dark.

His mom began the story she knew from her own childhood, “Once long ago behind the old orphanage a girl was wandering alone. Seeing a path that led into the forest, she decided to go that way, though she had been told many times not to venture into the forest,” his mother stopped for a moment. Emphasizing how the girl had been told not to do something, and eyed her son who was listening. He looked at her and nodded. Then she continued with the story, “The girl, Viola, didn’t like to listen to anyone, so she went anyway. She had heard there were many dangerous things that lived in the forest. Viola wanted to see them for herself. When she had gone far into the forest strange sounds began surrounding her on all sides. They were not any noises of animals that she had ever known before. Viola wasn’t frightened. She instead, did the one other thing she was told again not to do, she went off the path.”

Jaime’s mother patted him and her eyes narrowed; she was getting nervous, but he urged her to continue. He knew the good parts were coming. “Viola continued walking toward the sound closest to her. That was when a demon, some think a witch, popped out of the underbrush and grabbed her pulling her deep into the forest where she was never heard from or seen again. But, you can still see her some times when there is a full moon or the night is clear, wandering near the forest. They say that she haunts the orphanage and the forest around it, looking for children to snatch. Children who don’t listen to their parents, or wander too close to the forest.” Jaime’s mother looked out the window near his bed nervously. Then she silently said a prayer. Jaime’s eyes had closed already. She was glad for this.

Maggie the little girl from three houses down went missing a month ago. Jaimie might think it was just a fun bedtime story, but for the parents and towns’ people of Red Rock it was more than just legend.

 

The Prologue: Touch of Death

A grand house stood in the center of a sprawling city. Cobbled roads weaved around with shops and smaller houses dotting their edges. One section seemed much more run down than any other part of the city. Up in the largest house in the center in one wing through a small window a man could be seen pacing back and forth, tugging his black beard so hard any passerby might think he’d pull it right off his face.

“Why can I not go in?!” He shouted. Which was hard to hear because coming from the room in front of him was quite a bit of screaming, and though the door was shut, everyone could hear it as though they were standing inside the room themselves.

Another man was sitting on a comfortable, plush chair behind him, “Do you want to see your wife this way, Casimir? In pain. What is going on behind those doors was not meant for a man’s eye.”

Casimir turned abruptly in his pacing, “Father, I should be there to comfort her. She should not do this alone.”

His father who had a smirk on his face looked up at his son, remembering this moment himself when he had waited for the nurse to tell him of Casimir’s birth, “It is just how it is done. You can go in afterward. Then you can be all of the comfort in the world to her. Now you would only disturb the process, and worry everyone in the room, as you are doing to me out here.”

Casimir sighed and continued to pace. Again, tugging at his beard. Inside the room cries of anguish continued. He could hear the nurse crying for more water. Then he heard the sloshing of water coming from what must have been the maid’s careless hands carrying the bucket too rapidly. Splashes hit the ground, but some must have made it over to the nurse. He heard cloths being dunked into the water. Though he had no idea what any of this process was for. It was all a mystery to him. Then the nurse’s low growls came.

“Alright Mora, it’s time.” After this, Casimir heard the worst cries from his wife yet, and he just stopped in place staring at the door willing himself not to break it down. The most beautiful utterance came after all of that terrible noise. A small cry could be heard, just barely, through the door. Casimir smiled. He turned and ran over to his father who had just stood up. They shook hands.

“Congratulations Casimir, you’re a father.” Casimir beamed at his father.They stood there longer than Casimir expected.

Finally, the maid opened the door. “You can enter now.”

Inside his wife sat propped up on the bed. The maid must have cleaned up everything, which would have been why they had to wait so long. His own mother sat in another chair against the wall. The nurse leaned over a small cradle where a baby lay wrapped up.

“We have a daughter, Casimir.” Mora told him. He walked over and wrapped his arms around his wife kissing her on the cheek.

“Can I see her?” He asked.

The nurse lifted the baby from the cradle as his parents looked on. She had been wrapped in a white blanket which did not allow for any movement. The nurse laid the baby in Mora’s arms.

“She’s beautiful, Mora. It’s good she looks just like you.” Casimir told his wife.

“What should we call her?” Mora asked.

Casimir looked to his mother who was sitting nearby quietly looking on, “Let’s name her after my mother.”

“Perfect,” agreed Mora. “Lila,” she whispered to the baby. The baby opened her eyes and yawned. She pulled her hand free from the confines of the wrap and wiggled her little fingers.

“I think she likes her name,” said Casimir. Mora nodded in agreement.

Then Mora took her daughter’s hand in her own. Letting her tiny fingers wrap around her larger finger. Mora’s finger began to blacken very quickly, then her whole hand.

“Casimir, I think it’s the curse,” she managed to say. Her whole body quickly blackened and shriveled. “I love you,” she whispered, before her heart ceased to beat.

Everyone in the room sat there stunned. Casimir looked on with horror. The nurse whisked Lila up from her mother’s deadened arms and quickly wrapped her tightly.

“Lord Casimir? Wha’ do we do with baby Lila? It was ‘er, no?” The nurse asked timidly.

Everyone gawked. No one had wanted to be the one to blame the infant child for the death of her mother.

Casimir just stared at his wife who had just been speaking to them, and was now gone. Finally, when it was obvious that he could not give any instructions at this time his mother stood up.

“The baby will have to be kept away. We’ll make one side of the house just for her. She will have no visitors and nothing that is alive. While she is a baby we’ll need a nurse to care for her, and we’ll have her hands bound. Nurse, you’ll see to this.” Casimir’s mother spoke with finality.

“Yes m’Lady,” she nodded. Casimir’s father stood up as well. He and his wife took Casimir who resisting their direction did not want to exit the room.

“Son, she will have the proper funeral, but we need to leave her now and let her be in peace.”

The family, nurse, and maid left the room and baby Lila was taken away. The only people who knew of her condition were those who had been in the room on the tragic day of her mother’s death.