A Depressing Tale From Michelle’s Paper Garden

This is something I thought of when I am walking home in the middle of the night.
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The girl could not be more than sixteen years old yet she held a sleeping baby, a boy, wrapped in a plain blue pressed to her not fully developed breasts. He had been born only a few hours before she decided to take to the streets, an unwise action to be sure, but she deemed her task important enough to venture out on a cold winter night with a newborn. Foolish child was completely unaware of the predators who lurked just beyond her sight. Like myself.
I couldn’t help but smile a little. Merry Christmas to me, I thought wickedly as I began to follow her to the street at the edge of the park. I remained in the shadows of the trees, my feet never touching the ground.

She looked to her left and then to her right before crossing the quiet, snow covered street. It was a precautionary measure that had been etched into her head since childhood, but it did nothing to warn her of my presence or for that matter, of the presence of the others who were hovering about her: the homeless man whom to most would appear to be sleeping on the park bench was a ghoul, a creature whose enjoyment of the dead bodies is disturbing even to the most sadistic of night creatures; the unusually large stray dog who was sniffing around garbage cans in the park was a werewolf with hungry red eyes, and the old Santa Clause at the corner was no jolly old elf, but a redcap with a thirst for blood. All watched her carefully, all were aware of the others hanging about.

She raced up the steps of the large gothic building whose great towers seemed to reach the sky and stained-glass windows that were larger than any man; a church with all its stone glory. There were lights coming from inside the church, as it was Christmas Eve and midnight masses were popular for some reason. I would never understand Catholics.

With the utmost care — or at least the utmost care one can show when leaving a newborn on the front porch of a church— she placed the baby in front of the door. “I’m sorry,” she whispered to him before placing a kiss on the child’s forehead.
How sentimental, I thought sourly as the girl rose and slammed her fists against the wooden doors. Then, she rushed down the steps like a prankster who had just left a flaming gift on the doorstep of a hated neighbour and across the street. She quickly whipped past the homeless ghoul, who immediately perked up, as she vanished into the trees.

With a cruel grin of black pointed teeth, the creature rose from his bench and walked after her. The wolf growled hungrily from behind me, and proceeded to follow him, hoping to get a bite before the ghoul had his way with the young girl. No one would want to take a bite after the ghoul.

My head snapped back to the abandoned baby, and I immediately noticed that the redcap had moved from his corner. He had almost reached the staircase when the wooden door swung open, flooding the porch with soft candlelight and warmth from the many bodies that were seated in the pews. A man, a priest from him garb, stood in the doorway with a confused look on his elderly face. He spotted the baby and his expression changed to one of pity. He scooped up the child, mumbling comforting words that the sleeping baby would neither hear nor understand. He looked around, but saw no one, as the redcap had dropped his disguise and had ducked behind a tree.

It was my turn to act. I stepped out of the trees and walked to the edge of the park. “Good evening, father,” I said cheerfully as I walked across the street without looking one way or the other. I had no need to be cautious.

The priest pulled the child close to him, either because he worried that the baby would be cold or because the tiny voice in the back of his mind was telling him that I was not like him. Men of the cloth were not known to appreciate the unusual. “G-good evening, miss. Merry Christmas,” he replied with a forced smile. There was a twinge of fear in his dark blue eyes.
Hmm, so it’s the latter. I sighed as I walked up to the priest, who took an involuntary step backwards. He stared straight at me, and I in turn, stared right back.

My pupils narrowed to a thin slit. “You have nothing to fear, priest. I am just like you,” I told him, though the words made me want to gag. No one wants to be the equal of their food. “Now, give me the baby and then walk back into the church to finish your service.”

The priest nodded as he handed the baby to me and turned to renter the church. Some of the churchgoers asked him what had happened, but he ignored them all as he marched up to the alter. Paying no mind to the strange looks from his congregation, he began to preach. Those in the pews mumbled to their neighbours, but did nothing else.

The baby made a noise, rubbing his little nose with a balled fist. I glanced down at it. I could feel my fangs peeking out of my gums as I watched the blood rush through the tiny creature. There was nothing like the taste of a newborn.

There was a growl from behind me. I looked over my shoulder to see the redcap, thin and pale, standing at the foot of the staircase. His blood-soaked cap was clutched in a skeletal hand. The ghoul and the werewolf appeared on the other side of the road. The werewolf, now in human form, was covered in blood. The ghoul adorned a bloody skull on top of his head and the face of a pretty sixteen-year old girl was sewn to his bare chest. He chewed absently on a severed arm.

I turned to look back into the church. There were so many warm bodies that it sent chills up my spine. A low, content hiss escaped my lips. I smirked coldly. “Have at it, boys.”
A blur moved past me and the first scream followed as a large wolf tore into the jugular of a little old grandmother. The ghoul waddled over to the door, screeching gleefully at the mounting fear in the room. The redcap glided by me, turning in the doorway to face me.

“Coming, Camilla?” he asked, his voice was hoarse.

“No,” I replied as I lifted the baby. “This will be enough for me.”

The redcap nodded before closing the door. There was a soft click, trapping everyone inside like cows in a slaughterhouse. Screams and the sound of crunching bones were the only things that could escape the church.

Grinning like a schoolgirl, I spun around to make my way down the stairs, which I had planned on skipping down. I could have done a jig, I was so happy. Once I made it down the stony steps, I glided across the street and vanished into the dark, snowy park.

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