Update/ A bit of holiday cheer

SO, I have been absent. I realize this. There are a few reasons. One, my job is terrible and it is taking everything for me to stay there and concentrate on this tedious annoyance.

Two, I am line editing my novel right now. I would like to send it off to editors by the end of the year. So, I am hoping for some success.

Moreover, although last year I boycotted NANOWRIMO, this year I attempted it, but then I got very sick during November. I did not get to finish off the story. However, I will leave you all, my enduring readers with a glimpse of story that I have written. In hopes you will not leave me forever.

_______________________________________________

Prologue

                It was a clear night to begin. Neverland had been quiet a long time. Ever since Peter’s marvelous defeat of Captain James Hook, there was just the usual adventures. Pirates chasing lost boys, boys chasing pirates, and Indians chasing the lot of them. Then there were the beast who liked to scare them all when they felt up to it.

There had been no other children to visit the Neverland since the Darling children. Tinkerbell was content with this, since she was not fond of Wendy what so ever. Peter would not say, but he missed their presence. He loved the stories Wendy had told, and his adventures with Michael and John. The lost boys had no feelings either was as presently, they had no recollection of the events. Seeing as they were an entirely new set of boys who had not been around when the defeat of Hook had taken place. As stories do over many years, the embellishments grow. Therefore, the boys thought the Darling children must have been rather magnificent and courageous, as it had been told to them.

It began as a whisper among the mermaids. Then shadows crept through the fairy glen. By the time Tips, a rather stout but friendly boy, and Riddle, a tall, thin, bespectacled boy caught wind of the news; they were shaking in their bear skins. The fairies darted back and forth jingling in their language. It was apparent that they were frantic. Tips looked at Riddle wide eyed and together they burst toward the hideout.

At this time Peter was sitting on his throne as he does, playing his games. Tips and Riddle slid inside startling Sprout, Dusty, and Dandy who had been crouching low pretending to be Peter’s captives. Tips and Riddle stood at attention and stared their captain straight in the eye. Which is when he knew it was grave business.

“Boys?”

Tips spoke still shaking, “The pirates have a new leader.”

Riddle added, “They say he’s more fearsome then Cap’n Hook.”

Peter’s eyes widened in excitement.

Clouds rolled into Neverland and darkness settled across the island. Captain Samuel Black stood on the deck of a decrepit ship which flew a black flag with skull and cross bones proudly in the wind. Carved port side were the words “The Burning Dawn”. At the helm a crewman, whom there seemed something odd, but it was hard to put a finger on it just yet, stood directing the ship toward the island of Neverland. The Burning Dawn currently hovered above. Captain Black turned to Grail a short statured pirate at his side, “Yes, the undoing of Neverland should fit nicely on my shelf,” He cackled.  Static of magic emitted from him sending bolts of energy into the air causing a storm over the Neverland.

Chapter 1

A girl argued with her mother loudly. Hopefully you would never yell the obscenities she did towards a parent. They were foul and loathsome, so it will do no good to include any in the narrative. They stood there in the kitchen for a good ten minutes in this manner. Neighbors began to peek their heads out windows and doors wondering what the ruckus was about. Finally, the girl’s mother just said, “ENOUGH!” It was the end of the argument. “You are going to see your father and his family. There are no options.”

The girl’s face fell. She ran to a small room at the end of the hall. Though it had walls, the colors were not distinguishable because of the many posters that papered this room. There were boys with names like, One Direction and Justin Bieber, bands such as R5, and girls called Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, and Demi Lavato that stared down in every direction. The girl plopped down on her hot pink bed spread distraught at the news. A bright blue iPhone lay on her bedside table which she picked up and proceeded to text all of her closest friends the terrible news.

The girl, who consequently was called Annie Darling, had brown waves of hair falling to her shoulders and stood about five feet tall. Annie was the kind of girl that was not afraid to tell her mom that she did not want to spend the summer in London, England with her father’s family. She knew just whose fault it was too, her step-father.

Last spring, her mother had re-married. Now, they want to have their own time. Every other summer Annie had stayed with her mother and they went to Disneyland or the zoo. Most of all, Annie had time with her friends which is how she preferred it. Annie’s father came to visit the last two weeks of summer. It seemed that now her mother had found a replacement for Annie, and she was being shoveled off to another country.

On the way to the airport, Annie argued. Her step-father tried to calm her down, but that made it worse. Her mother promised her a new tablet at the end of the summer when she returned from London. Annie turned up her nose. She wanted to stay in Los Angeles with her friends.

Annie refused to speak to her mother and step-father as they said their goodbyes at the curb leaving her with a flight attendant to walk her to security. Her mother hugged Annie, but she remained limp, earbuds blasting in her ears. Annie cracked her gum and nodded at them. Annie’s mother teared up and got back in the passenger seat. Her step-father just shook his head and put his arm around her as they drove away leaving Annie on her own.

After security and an hour of waiting, Annie was settled on the plane. Headphones were still jammed in her ears and she was trying to out run some large monster in Temple Run on her tablet.

A woman seated next to Annie leaned over and tapped her. This woman was the type that Annie might have wished at one point to be her mother. She was plump, wispy hair in a bun, and holding her crochet.

Annie, who did not like to be bothered, whipped an earbud out, sneering at the lady.

“Pilot says to put all electronic devices aside for takeoff,” the lady said kindly. Annie pressed a few buttons on the technology factory in front of her then stored everything in the seat. The lady’s needles continued to tap together unaffected. The lady continued to speak to her. “Such a little girl to be traveling a long way on your own,” she smiled.

“I am not little. I am thirteen years old.” Annie said scathingly, her eyebrows rose.

“My my, practically a grown-up already.”

Annie nodded in approval. She had this notion; it must have been from somewhere, a movie or TV show that being grown-up was much better than being a child. That she would be free to make her own choices. Of course, free from being shipped off to another country without her liking.  It must be wonderful. Annie closed her eyes and lay back against the seat as the plane took off; the clicking of the lady’s needles humming in her ears.

The land was dark. Too dark. This had to be a nightmare. No one would come here for fun. This is what Annie’s mind relayed to her as she stood on the edge of a blackened lagoon. Below her feet crunched remains of lush grass now dead, yellowed, and dry as straw. Annie looked closer at what would have been water. Instead it was a thick, black, tar like substance that filled this lagoon. It did not look pleasant to swim in. Grey, ominous clouds blocked Annie’s vision of any other view of wherever she might be.

Eyes shone out of the dark water followed by a head. It was a distorted figure, but discernible because even Annie had seen the Disney movie when she was little. It was some kind of ugly, horrific looking mermaid. The mermaid had slimy, white hair entangled in seaweed. Her eyes were slits of light lit up like beacons. She had pointy teeth that stuck out like fangs. Her hand raised out of the water evidently to beckon Annie toward her and the mermaid had razor sharp nails against pale, cloudy, scaly skin.

Annie just shook her head, “No thanks.” Then the mermaid began to sing. Other’s surfaced and sang with her a raspy, enchanting song.

Come little child

Into the sea

Sing with wind

frolic with me

Come little child

Into the sea

Walk in the water

Frolic with me

Annie’s feet seemed to move of their own accord before she had realized the song’s affects. She screamed. Annie covered her ears, shaking her head, yelling “NO! I WON’T!”

Annie was shaken awake by the lady on the plane. “Young lady, you’re having a nightmare, and scaring half the plane.”

Annie looked around startled. She wondered how much time until they reached London. She did not want to go back to sleep.

No School (Pt. 3)

Here is the next installment in the saga of No School. I am aware the title is still not that great.


Maria Marker and Dom Decimal traveled away from the magic island toward the main land. This time they did not go hungry and they were not thirsty. The goodie basket that Pickle had given them kept the two satisfied on the short journey. On the third day they saw land. The boat hit shore. Maria and Dom dragged it into the sand leaving the basket in the boat. Over the course of the three day journey the two children had discussed Math. They recalled a few problems that they had learned when they were younger. It was not much, but maybe it would be enough to help overcome the evil doings of Sinister Student. Dom had agreed that Maria could hold onto the magic pencil for now.

They left the boat behind and walked into the Wildering Wilds. They had to cross through the Rainbow River where Dom fell all the way in and was wet for the rest of the day. Beyond the river were the Monkey Mountains. It was trick not to disturb the nests of monkeys that thrived in the trees, or if woken- they would steal your hat. It was a great distance to the land of No School which lay at the end of everything and beyond nothing. If you have ever tried to find nothing, it is incredibly hard. Maria and Dom were considering giving up when they were bogged down in the middle of the Dark Desert when things began to disappear. Which was hard to tell anyway, because it was dark as the dead of night.

“I think we’re almost there. To nothing. Beyond that is the land of No School,” said Maria Marker.

Dom looked around and saw that the brush and sand simply was starting to stop and they were walking on what could have been cement from one angle or a line from another. It was hard to tell everything shifted when he turned. “There really is nothing,” he seemed surprised.

Maria charged ahead though she was exhausted she was eager to find No School and Ms. Good Teacher. Dom followed her. They walked for what could have been days maybe weeks, or just an hour. It was hard to tell as there was nothing to see. Finally, Maria and Dom could see a crest of darkness ahead and what looked to be a fire and smoke.

“I think I see it!” cried Dom.

“You’re right. That has to be No School,” said Maria.

They hurried, running toward the darkness. As they approached in the distance they could smell the stench of burning paper. “There!” Maria pointed to the fire off the road down a ways. She could see a huge pile of books burning. “Dom she’s burning books.”

“I know we don’t read much, but it just seems wrong to burn books,” said Dom. They walked silently down the road that had appeared beneath their feet. It was broken bricks thrown down unevenly; on either side of the road was a mixture of dead grass and gravel. To their left scattered in a field were old classroom desks falling apart, upside down, and weathered. To their right was the bonfire they had noticed. Further down the road were some old looking buildings they looked to be the center of this place. Near the buildings was a run-down playground.

When they were close enough to pass the playground, Maria saw that one of the swings was unhooked and rusted in places. The other was actually thrown over the top of the playset. Pieces of the jungle gym were rusty and falling off. The see-saw sat flat on the ground defeating the purpose of the game. And, the monkey bars were upside down.

“That does not look like a fun playground,” Dom pointed out. Maria nodded in agreement.

“Which building do you think Sinister Student is in?” asked Maria.

Dom shrugged, “Could be any of them. I guess we should just pick one.”

Maria lead them toward the center building which agreed with the darkness. It spiraled upward on one side giving it an eerie look, while the other side stretched out long and rectangular. It looked cathedral like. The old rotting letters on the outside read, Forest Hills Elementary, some were blacked out. Maria and Dom could tell that’s what it once said. There were two large oak front doors, where there once had been windows, the glass was shattered. Maria reached forward pulling one open; it creaked. Dom jumped forward right into Maria. She turned and gave a reproachful look.

Cautiously, they waked through the doors.

No School pt. 2

I just have to make a comment about how it is an amazingly historic day. It is one that I will remember for the rest of my life. (Insert Rainbow)

Now, onto the next subject- I started a short story sometime last year. Which you can find here- Once Upon a School. I have finally added to this story. I will still be adding the ending pretty soon here. But, I wanted to put the next installment up. However, I am considering changing the title of the story.


Cynthia the Great ushered the two students into her shimmering house. Pickle waddled inside; a trail of skittles dotting the ground behind him. Inside the house was extravagant. It was covered floor to ceiling in a layer of frosting that that magically re-iced itself to get rid of the footprints left behind by Maria and Dom as they followed Cynthia. The pretzel staircase dripping in peanut butter and jelly caught Maria’s eye. She licked her lips. Cynthia led the two under an archway into another room that looked as though it was made entirely of stained glass. But, when Dom went to have a closer look, he realized the walls were actually different flavors of jello molded together. They sat on seats made from giant lifesavers around a peppermint table. Cynthia the Great waved her hand and steaming hot bowls of soup appeared in front of them.

“Now, I understand you have come for my help?” she looked on as they slurped their soup. Pickle had gone off into some other room.

Maria Marker nodded her head vigorously, “It is our teacher. She’s been kidnapped by Sinister Student.”

“Yeah and the only way to get her back is to use magic,” interrupted Dom Decimal.

“But, we’ve never learned any magic. In fact, we haven’t learned much. I know how to make smoothies, play video games, and relax,” continued Maria, “but, I none of that will help against the antics of sinister student in the land of No School.”

Cynthia the Great smiled at the children, “Not to worry. I believe I know just the piece of magic that can defeat Sinister Student. However, you will have to access a very special power in order for it to work. Finish your dinner, and I will take you to the object.”

Maria and Dom slurped their soup as fast as they could. Not even bothering to use the napkins that had come with the meal. “Finished!”

Cynthia the Great rose gracefully from her seat and motioned for them to follow her once again. This time she lead them up the peanut butter and jelly-pretzel staircase. Maria looked down at her shoes they didn’t even stick in the mix- the magic was unreal. Cynthia lead them down a hallway which was surprisingly unremarkable compared to the rest of the house. She paused at a door covered in an assortment of wildflowers and pulled what looked to be a key from her pocket- but was actually a tiny buzzing bee. She held him up to the doorknob. There was a slight click and she put the bee back into her pocket pushing the door open with her other hand. The room was stark white and empty except a tiny pedestal in the center of the room. Maria and Dom followed Cynthia into the room with a hushed silence it seemed like a time to be utterly quiet.

Cynthia the Great led them up to the pedestal which had a glass casing over it. Through the glass Maria and Dom could see an ordinary number 2 pencil sitting on a velvet lining- perfectly sharpened.

Dom looked up, “A pencil? You want us to defeat Sinister Student with a pencil?” He looked absolutely flabbergasted. “How about a gun- or something with a little more umph!” Maria nudged him hoping to get him to shut-up, but she could help thinking he was right.

Cynthia only smiled at him her same smile, “This is no ordinary pencil. If used correctly, you can not only defeat Sinister Student, but rescue Ms. Good Teacher, and maybe learn something. It is a magic pencil. It will only work to defeat evil when used by a person  with the right power.”

“What power?” Maria Marker looked up at her.

“Ah now you are asking the right questions. It is the power of Math. Unlock the ability of Math within you and this pencil can do anything you want,” Cynthia the Great glowed with excitement, her turquoise gown began to shimmer. “Are you ready to try it?”

“I don’t know any Math,” exclaimed Dom Decimal.

“I think I know Math,” Maria furrowed her brows and scratched her head, “I can’t remember.”

Cynthia lifted the class covering setting it in the air beside her where it hovered ever so gracefully. She lifted the pencil as if it were made of glass itself and handed it to Maria Marker. “Now, use it to write this problem in the air,” explained Cynthia, “2 x 3 = 6.”

Maria Marker took the weightless pencil and wrote in the air as if it were an invisible blackboard (whatever that was- she had not been in real lesson for so long her memory was fuzzy). The numbers twinkled in the air as she wrote the problem Cynthia the Great had instructed. Maria’s arm tingled and the pencil vibrated as she completed the answer.

“All you have to do is ask the pencil to do whatever you want in your head once you finish the problem. Try it!” Cynthia giggled.

Maria wasn’t sure what to ask for, so she started small. A yapping sound could be heard suddenly. There standing at her feet was a tiny golden retriever puppy.

“A puppy?! You asked for a puppy? How will that help?” Dom looked at her eyes popping.

Maria shrugged.

“Very good,” said Cynthia the Great petting the puppy, “Now you have the gist. The more complicated the Math; the more power is supplied to the pencil. I know you can defeat Sinister Student. You should be off now. It is a long journey to the land of No School.” She led them out of the room. The puppy disappeared somewhere down the hallway as they trailed back down the goopy staircase. At the door Cynthia the Great looked at them still smiling, but a little less than before, “Good luck my friends.”

Pickle was waiting at the door to lead Maria Marker and Dom Decimal back to the shore. At the boat he squeaked goodbye to the pair. “Fair well! Here are some supplies from Miss Cynthia,” and he handed them a basket full of goodies.

The two students climbed, with the magic pencil and basket, into their boat waving goodbye to Pickle the Pandicorn. Hoping that whenever they made it to the land of No School their combined Math skills would be enough to defeat Sinister Student.

The Old Connolly Place

Just entered this one into a contest. We’ll see I guess. You had to start with the line “I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over.” 750 words or less. Won’t know for two months.


 

The moment it was over, I knew it was a mistake, Ellis thought. The events of the day skittered through her head. She closed her eyes; the cool night air brushed its fingertips along her face bringing her back to the early morning breeze.

“Ellis did you finish last night’s calc for Haddock’s class?” Zac looked at her expectantly. Ellis glowered at him, but a smiled played on her lips. She took a crisp paper from her notebook, pushing it into his chest.

“I better have this back by lunch with payment.”

Zac leaned in, pecked her on the mouth, and ran toward homeroom yelling back to her, “Oh I’ll pay you alright.”

Dani walked up, “Why was Zac yelling?”

“You know, calc. Never does his homework.” Laughing the girls headed to class.

The fall air was soft as Ellis sat outside an apple in hand. Zac, Dani, Rex, and Lucy all crowded at the table for lunch. Zac handed the homework to Ellis, “Thanks hun,” then he whispered in her ear, “I’ll pay you later,” and winked. She snickered.

Dani looked over at them and raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. A few leaves from the oak tree standing over their table fluttered down cascading over the group. “Don’t look now, but he’s staring at you girls again,” Rex pointed. The girls glanced over to where Rex was gesturing. The new kid was watching Lucy and Ellis; his eyes were dark and intense.

“I’ll take care of this.”

“Zac!” But, Zac just waved Ellis away. They watched as he went over and spoke to the guy. The new kid nodded. There was a lot of gesturing, pointing back at their table. Then Zac returned.

“He’s going to meet us tonight at the Old Connolly Place,” he said.

“Did you tell him it was haunted?” Lucy asked.

“Yup.”

The bell rang deciding for them and they shrugged, grabbing their notebooks. The crew headed off to class.

A bright, enchanted moon hung low, covered by cottony clouds masquerading across the blackened sky. An eerie feeling crawled across Ellis’ neck. The group stood outside the Old Connolly Place. The dilapidated house had bricks and wood falling off the outside, there were gaps in the roof where tiles had fallen through or tumbled down the front. The new kid showed up on time, his name was Jon, Ellis heard him say.

“Jon, you go inside, upstairs, hangout for ten minutes. If we see you through the window, you’ll be in our crew,” explained Zac, “Hell, Lucy might even go on a date with you,” he laughed.

“I’ll what!?” Lucy stamped her foot looking at Zac. He just winked at her and she furrowed her brow even more and moved closer to Dani and Ellis.

“You got it?” Zac asked.

Jon nodded.

Ellis watched as Jon walked up the broken steps. Her sinking feeling was increasing by the minute. She didn’t think the house was haunted, but this seemed cruel. The door shut behind him. Creaking of the ancient stairs could be heard inside. There was a loud crash and a scream. Rex and Zac ran up, throwing open the rotting door which flew off the hinge.

Ellis stood back, peeking in from the doorway. A gaping hole was visible in the ceiling. On the floor, Jon lay unmoving. “What were we thinking?” she mumbled aloud.

 

A New Ending

Ella watched as the shoe slid comfortably onto Dru’s foot. Her eyes widened in shock.

“IT FITS!” Dru screamed at the top of her lungs. The coachman toppled over. Ella folded her hand over the other glass slipper, what did it matter now?  She glanced sideways at the coat closet where she and her step-sisters kept their shoes and other effects. Ella and Dru had always shared, of course Ella would get Dru’s old, worn shoes, they had the same size feet; it made sense now.

The fact that the Prince would decide who he had met at the ball last night, with a shoe, was such a daft idea. Hundreds of women in the kingdom must have the same size foot, thought Ella. She shook her head. Her stepmother looked at Ella an evil smirk playing at her lips.

The coachman, who had regained his footing, went outside and returned with the Prince. He didn’t look like Ella had remembered in her mind. His nose was pointier, and his eyes were scrunched together, too small for his wide face. Obviously, he wasn’t very intelligent either. The Prince looked at Dru, the shoe sparkling on her unmanicured toes.

“You are not the woman I met last night. I know I would recognize you right away,” He said to Dru. Ella snorted into her lap. The Prince turned and stared momentarily, but then turned back to the woman who was wearing the shoe.

She threw the shoe from her foot it conked Odile right on the head. “OUCH!” yelled her sister who had been watching with frustration. Ella stifled a giggle. The Prince turned and left the women sitting speechless.

But, Dru was not going to give up that easily. She grabbed the shoe which sat between Odile and Ella, running after the prince her curls frazzled and every which way, yelling, “IT FIT! IT FIT! IT FIT!”

Ella looked at her stepmomw who watched in horror. “COME BACK HERE RIGHT NOW YOUNG LADY!” she screamed from her perch on her sitting room chair.

Ella stood up, still clutching the other shoe. “I’m leaving this abominable house. You have never treated me kindly. I don’t need you or a prince,” she looked out the door with slight distaste, “to see me for the good person I am.” She walked past her stepmother and dropped the matching shoe in her lap. Her stepmother gasped, though it was hard to know if it was because of the shoe, or because Dru was now running barefoot after the Prince’s carriage which was rumbling away.

Ella took the few dresses she owned in a bag and left the house that day. Never did she let anyone call her Cinderella again.

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.