There was a
biting chill within the air that night. The sky was
clear and there wasnt even a hint of a breeze
but the cold had teeth and it bit through my tunic as
though it had fangs. My cloak was worn and moth-eaten
but it was my favourite item of clothing which I had
possessed since childhood which incidentally felt
like an age ago. The rest of my clothing, my tunic,
trousers, undergarments and neckerchief were of
impeccable quality, made of the finest silks and
cloths. I was a man of refined taste and was proud of
my handsome features. Even my beard was neatly
trimmed without revealing a spec of protruding
Resting my hand
against the top of my hat I continued at a fair pace
as my sturdy boots trod heavily against the frozen
clumps of mud, on the outskirts of Tulcea village. I
was heading for the local inn to collect their due
rent and no doubt a free drink, something to warm the
As I traversed
down the narrow lane I could make out three figures
ahead. They were dawdling as though they had nowhere
to go, and it was too cold a night for standing
around. One of the figures was sat upon a farm gate
while the other two leant against it.
I called out while tilting may hat as I casually
a gentleman, the one on the farm gate said as
he jumped down and hurried over to me.
The other two
dark figures followed the other. All three of them
were rough unkempt males and stank of stale booze.
The one in front appeared to be their leader of sorts
as it was him that did all the talking while the
others had a contorted expression of frozen smirks
upon their faces.
You off to
town then? The man standing directly ahead of
me asked while rubbing his facial stubble.
heading for the local inn, I said in a
confident tone, Youre welcome join me and
partake in a beverage or two.
I hoped the offer
of free booze would calm the tension and allow them
to let me pass, but it was clear they wanted
something far more valuable than a free drink.
That be a
heavy purse you got there, the man said, Peraps
well be relieving you the burden of carrying it
One of the other
men at my side pulled at my cloak attempting to get a
closer look. Within a flash I yelled out a curse word
and pushed the man ahead of me to the ground. I then
turned on my heels and ran into the forest.
him! I heard one of the men yell from behind.
The frigid air of
the night filled my lungs as I ran at full pelt into
the darkness trying my best not to slam into a tree.
The undergrowth and thicket crunched against the
underside of my heavy boots with no way to hurry in
silence. There were also the sounds of the men
hurrying behind me. They were surely intent on doing
far more than steal my monies after what I had done,
they would likely beat me or worse, and I so deplored
around ere somewhere I can hear his footfalls,
one of them said.
see them in the darkness but knew they were very near.
My heart pounded and it was difficult to catch breath.
I needed to rest but there still wasnt enough
distance between us, if only there was a place to
hide. I ran as fast as the forest would allow me
taking care not to trip hoping that my wouldbe
attackers would take a tumble of their own.
The old castle
came into view ahead of me, I couldnt believe I
had caught up with it so quickly. I knew of the
rumours about who once lived there and hoped the men
giving chase knew of them too. Dashing out of the
thicket and into clear view I hurried across a field
heading for the stone path that led to the castle
I heard a voice from behind.
back, and with all my will forcing my tired legs to
run faster, I dashed towards the open door of the
castle then as silently as possible hid among the
My hunch was
right and my wouldbe attackers didnt follow,
however they stood outside daring one another to
enter and I knew it would only be a matter of time
before one of them did.
Go on, you
a chicken or what?! The leader of the group
crazy? Its cursed. Theres a werewolf that
lives in there everyone knows that! Was the
reply from another.
blood sucking vampire not a werewolf you nutter!
Said the other man.
is Im not going in there, you go if yer so
brave! Replied the man.
They continued to
bicker back and forth while I crouched panting
heavily trying to regain control of my exhausted body.
I wished I could just jump to my feet rush over to
the door and slam it shut, but the huge oak door on
its rusted hinges would be an impossible task
especially in my condition.
within the shadows of darkness I slowly crept across
the floor over to the staircase making my way
upstairs. Each footfall caused the dilapidated steps
to creak making it all too obvious where I was
heading. I cursed myself for doing such a thing but
there was no turning back.
Well if hes
not afraid then I am neither, said one of the
men as he entered the castle.
I crouched then
tried to move as silently as possible continuing up
the stairs upon my hands and knees, but it was clear
from the creaking steps as to my location and as each
step flexed beneath me I knew it wouldnt be
long before the men followed.
shut up! One of the men said as the other two
made their way into the castle.
I stopped moving,
imagining I was a little mouse, breathing shallow,
forcing myself to remain as quiet as possible. The
only sound was dripping water which eerily fell at an
inconsistent pace. Drip, drip, drop, drop... drip,
drip, drop, drip. I hoped it would spook them,
causing them to flee, but alas they had a sudden
spurt of bravery.
blighters gone up stairs, get after him!
The leader of the group shouted.
All three of them
hurried toward the stairs causing me to jump to my
feet and run in the darkness. Their footsteps were
heavy but alas despite the ruined state of the stairs
it still wasnt enough for them to break beneath
the mens feet. There was a room at the far end
of the landing to which I swiftly dashed slamming the
door closed behind me. It was only moments before all
three of the men figured where I was hiding and they
burst open the door with one forceful kick.
The moment my
wouldbe attackers entered the room they were greeted
with the flickering light of an oil lamp illuminating
the small room. A number of chairs and a small table
had been arranged as to greet the new guests. I was
I said calmly, Make yourselves comfortable.
going on ere?! One of the men moaned,
Bash his head in and grab his purse.
I stood up and
walked across the room causing my shadow to remain
motionless before swiftly catching up with me. An
illusion caused by the oil lamp perhaps but enough to
install a chill down the spine of even the bravest of
familiar with the works of Mary Howitt? I asked
calmly knowing full well they were uneducated
All three of them
looked at one another wondering whether to attack or
turn on their heels, each wishing someone would make
the first move, all sensing looming danger.
I took a step
forward and proceeded to speak, Will you walk
into my parlour said the spider to the fly, Tis
the prettiest little parlour that ever did you spy,
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair, And Ive
many curious things to show when you are there.
The door behind
them slammed closed of its own accord leaving them
looking bewildered and trapped within the room.
my parlour, I said calmly, This is my
castle, and youre my next meal.
ecstatically while they clambered at the door in