Innocence Taken

The night air was so much cooler and cleaner in the country.  Maybe it was the fresh breeze off the grassy fields?  She couldn’t say.  All Josephine knew was that she most assuredly preferred to be in the country compared to in a village or town.  It may have been easier to hunt in the villages and towns but the meals were not as clean and the scenery of a darkened alley leaves much to be desired.  People tended to be on some kind of drug or herb that gave their blood an off taste and made her feel as if SHE had been the one to take the drug.  Country folks were hard working and ate from their harvests.  They didn’t have time for or desire the latest miracle drug of the day.

Josephine had been alive long enough to know that people didn’t really need all those tonics to live their best life.  They needed to focus of working hard, eating well, and hoping they never encountered her in the dark.  She always thanked her meal after eating.  After all, it was completely out of her control.  A Vampiress can only survive on animal blood for a short time before she must give in to her need for human blood.  The make-up of the two bloods are slightly different and she requires human blood to truly thrive.  Because of this, she moves from town to town, drinking animals until she finds a person who appears to have no children to support.  She isn’t a monster, after all.  She may need to murder to live but even a murderer has her limits.

Josephine often used her mysterious looks to lure people, when she needed to.  She could never enter their home without being invited, although she usually just waited for them to come out.  There were less chances of a prolonged encounter that way.  She was tall, compared to most woman, at about 5 foot 8 inches.  Her slender figure was accented by the long, dark gray dress she wore along with the hooded, black cape that draped her body and dragged slightly on the ground.  Her hair was a deep red and landed just past her shoulders.  She kept this hidden most of the time, though, because it was an easily defined feature of hers.  Her bright blue eyes, however, were not something she could hide.  Although, she could change any part of her appearance at will, which was a nice benefit of being a Vampiress in hiding, she usually kept these features.  They were her favorite and the ones she chose whenever she could.

On this night, Josephine had just finished a most satisfying meal.  A middle aged farmer who had grown children and recently lost his wife.  He was in good health but noticeably depressed by the loss of his wife.  She decided he may feel better to go be with her in the afterlife.  And, she was starving.  It had been weeks since her last human meal and she grew weak. 

Now that she’d had a proper meal, it was time for her to move on to the next unsuspecting town.  Josephine always had to move on in order not to bring attention to herself.  Otherwise, the townsfolk would realize they had a vampire in their midst and begin searching for her.  Safety first.

There was very little moonlight on this night, perfect for her to travel without being seen.  The stories you might have heard are indeed true.  A Vampiress can turn into a bat and travel for many miles but rest is required every now and then.  It would likely take her most of the night to get to a suitable place to wait out the daylight.  Sun is most poisonous to a Vampiress so she always needed to find shelter before the sun peak over the horizon.  Otherwise, the sun would burn her until there was nothing left but ash.  A very painful way to go.

As she changed form and began her flight over the trees, she noticed a little girl in a white frilly dress with big pink and yellow flowers on it, playing amongst the trees near a simple little farmhouse.  Her skin was almost as white as Josephine’s.  Her hair was also as white as any wig she’d ever seen.  Josephine decided to delay her trip and take a closer look at this strange girl who was playing outside in the wee hours of the night.  She landed high enough in a tree so the little girl wouldn’t see the bat and flee.  As she perched there and watched the girl twirl in her pretty dress, she caught a glimpse of her eyes.  The purest, lightest blue eyes imaginable.  The young girl was more beautiful and innocent than any child she’d seen in her 300 plus years of life.

Josephine ended up staying the remainder of the early morning hours to watch the girl play.  She jumped rope, played with her dolls, hide and seek with her mother, and had a little tea party with her toys, among other things.  Her mother seemed attentive and loving, ever checking on her and feeding her meals throughout the night as if it was just another day.  How strange.

When Josephine could see the sun would be up soon, she retreated to the cave she’d been sleeping in that was not too far from where she’d been hunting.  It was time for her, and apparently this little girl, to sleep.  She made a mental note of where the girl lived and decided to come back the next night to gather more information about this strange, beautiful little girl.

That next evening, Josephine woke from her slumber and immediately remembered the little girl.  She wanted to go look in on her but she was also very aware of her need to move on.  Getting caught by angry townsfolk was never a pleasant experience and usually forced her to end all of them.  This seemed a waste since she really couldn’t drink more than one adult at a meal.  With this in mind, she decided to quench her curiosity for a short time and then begin her journey to the next little country town. 

As Josephine approached the little farmhouse, she could see the mother guiding the little girl outside to play.  On this night, the girl wore another dress, this one with big sunflowers on the skirt of the dress.  The mother called out to the little girl not to go too far into the trees and Josephine finally caught her name.  Emma.  The girl called back, promising to stay close and her mother went back into the house. 

Without giving it nearly as much thought as Josephine normally would, she flew to the ground and changed into her human form, still quite a ways away from Emma.  She used her black cloak to hide herself amongst the trees and creep ever closer to Emma.  She felt so drawn to this innocent little thing and was endlessly curious as to why she was only out at night.  Could it be possible that she, too, was immortal and must stay out of the sunlight?  Josephine watched from the trees for a few moments when the little girl spoke up.

“I can see you back there.  Do you want to play?” Emma was holding out a freshly poured cup of imaginary tea for Josephine to take.

“Won’t your mother be upset with you for talking to me?” Josephine took a few steps out from behind the tree and wondered how Emma was able to spot her.

“We don’t have to tell her.  You look nice to me and I get tired of playing by myself all the time.”  Emma said, while placing Josephine’s tea cup in front of a chair at the small table.  “My mommy tries to play with me sometimes but I know she gets tired so I don’t wake her when she falls asleep.  What’s your name?”

“My name is Josephine.  What’s your name, little one?”  Josephine felt so taken with this precious little human!  She’d wanted to have children of her own someday until her choices were ripped away from her by a Vampire who desired her as his mate for all of eternity!  She’d finally rid herself of him and traveled on her own now, only taking what she had to in order to survive.  This innocent girl seemed to represent for Josephine the beautiful, simple life she had lost to the monster she was forced to be. 

“My name is Emma and this is my favorite doll, Elizabeth!  Want to have a tea party with us?” Emma said, gesturing to the small, round table as she sat down.

“I’d love to, if your mom won’t mind.”  Josephine was hesitant because she truly didn’t want to injure this family.  She decided if they were upset by her, she would flee instead of killing them.  She normally didn’t leave witnesses when there was a dispute but she would sooner crush a beautiful flower growing along a dirt road than she would harm this particular family.

“She won’t.  My daddy sleeps at night and my mommy always takes a nap when night comes, so she can get up to cook when I get hungry.”  Emma started pouring the invisible tea as she spoke, like what she was saying was completely normal.

“Why do you play at night and not during the day like other little girls?” Josephine asked, not sure what answer she might possibly get.

“The sun hurts my skin,” Emma motioned toward the slight moon in the night sky, “but the moon isn’t strong enough to hurt me.  That’s why I sleep during the day and I get to play at night, so long as I don’t talk to any hunters.  I don’t know them and they might hurt me.  Why are you out at night and not sleeping?”

Josephine thought for a moment before answering, “The sun hurts me, too!  It burns my skin very badly so I come out at night just like you.”

“You were born just like me!  It’s too bad you aren’t a little girl, too.  I don’t have any friends.  Do you have any children that play at night like I do?!” Emma became so excited at the thought of having another child to play with.  It broke Josephine’s heart to see how lonely she was and how hard her mother was trying to fill that role for her.

“I would love to be your friend!  We can start by drinking this lovely tea and sharing a biscuit with Elizabeth.”  Josephine had forgotten for a moment that she really shouldn’t stay here.  The danger would grow more and more with each human she had to kill.  The dead animals would draw attention to her, first, though.  She may have to travel to eat and then come back.  It would be very complicated but she couldn’t imagine leaving little Emma here in the dark, so lonely.  Josephine definitely understood loneliness.

“We don’t have real biscuits because mommy says they are for special occasions but we can pretend!” Emma said, while holding up an empty wooden plate.  Josephine could see by the condition of their house that this family was struggling to raise a special child like Emma.  It must’ve been a drain on their resources that her mother had to stay up all night with her. 

“Emma, that sounds just fine with me.  I quite like imaginary biscuits, anyway.”  Josephine was truly happy to spend time with Emma but she had to figure out what to do when her mother reappeared.  She decided to show Emma her trick.

“I have a special magic trick that I can do, Emma, but you must never speak of it to anyone, okay?  Can you promise?” Josephine said, while standing up from the table.

“I can keep a secret.  I never see anyone else to tell secrets to.  I promise.  What is the trick?!”  Emma was very excited now.  She never normally had any interaction so this was all brand new. 

“You must never even tell your mother.  If you do, I won’t be able to come back and play with you anymore.  I’d very much like to come visit you some nights so you mustn’t tell anyone about my magic trick.  Okay?”

“Okay, I promise!  What is it?!” Emma was standing now and bouncing with excitement.  Josephine took a step back from the table and instantly changed into a bat.  She circled the table while Emma stared in awe of her amazing magic trick.  Emma squealed with excitement and her mother hurried out of the house to see what the commotion was about.

“What’s happened, Emma?  Has someone bothered you?” Her mother said, in a very concerned voice.

“No, mommy!  I’m just so happy!  I have a new friend!”  With that, Emma pointed to the bat circling the table and her mother suddenly had a slightly alarmed look on her face.

“Bats are very beautiful and useful but don’t touch it, okay?  We wouldn’t want you getting sick, would we?”  With that, her mother hugged Emma and headed back inside, obviously trying to get a nap in before making their midnight lunch.

When her mother had not come out for several minutes, Josephine turned back into her human form and sat down at the table once more.

“Remember, I can only play with you as long as you don’t tell anyone that I have magic.  If you tell, I won’t be able to come back.” Josephine thought this arrangement might work very well, so long as Emma didn’t cause her parents concern about the bat hanging around her so much.

“I won’t, I promise.  I like having someone to talk to.  Do you want some more tea, Josephine?”  Emma was so precious.  Josephine could already feel such a connection to this little soul.  She would definitely return tomorrow night.  And the next.

They visited and played and talked of whimsical things the rest of the night.  Josephine changed each time her mother approached, which was easy to tell by the sound of their creaky floors and the windows next to the back door.  Before Josephine left, she promised to be back the next night and left Emma with a pretty flower in her white hair.  It was so nice to have something to look forward to each night!  Josephine hurried to the forest to find a quick meal before sleeping.  She found her meal in a deer that didn’t hear her quick approach.  She thanked the buck and continued to her cave, realizing she would need human blood within the next few weeks.  She may need to find a good resting place for the bodies if she is to continue to stay here for any length of time.

During that next day, word had spread about animals turning up dead, drained of blood, with two perfect tooth marks in their necks.  Rumors were already picking up since the farmer on the edge of town had died in a similar manner.  The nearby farms agreed to be on the lookout for suspicious activity.

Josephine arose, cleaned in a nearby stream, and made her way back to Emma, who was anxiously waiting with a jump rope.  Her mother didn’t seem to understand why her daughter would want to show a jump rope to a bat but she was happy that Emma was so happy.  She let the child do as she wished on this occasion. 

Josephine waited in a nearby tree until Emma’s mother went back inside for her nap before changing and approaching Emma.  She was so happy to see Emma and perfectly content to watch the girl show her all her toys.  Such a sweet, innocent little one.  Josephine was saddened for a moment while thinking of the life Emma would never have.  Maybe, when Emma was old enough, Josephine would tell her the truth and give her the opportunity to become immortal with Josephine.  It wouldn’t be much different than how Emma had lived her whole life except she would have to be taught how to respectfully choose and dispatch her meals and taught when and how to defend herself.  At least Emma didn’t have to worry about such things now.  Let her enjoy these simple childhood moments while she can.

As the days grew into weeks, Josephine grew weaker on her animal blood diet and desperately needed a human meal.  Knowing this would put her in danger, she opted to go to the complete other side of town to hunt.  She hoped this would put the townspeople off of her trail and buy her some more time.  All she longed for was more time with Emma, although she knew she would have to leave, at least for a little while, to let things settle down.  Rumors were spreading fast. 

Josephine prepared Emma the night before by telling her that she would not be there the next night but she promised to return after that.  She told Emma that she had something important to attend to but promised to return with a surprise for Emma.  This excited Emma very much!  The look of joy on her face would carry Josephine through the entire night while she was missing Emma.  Josephine was able to find a suitable meal and complete the task, although it did take the whole night.  The older woman was coming from her outhouse when Josephine struck.  She acted quickly so the poor woman didn’t suffer.

She didn’t have time to go to Emma’s home before the sun was up, as she had suspected would happen, so she stopped in a little shop when she neared her cave and picked up some colored wax and paper as Emma’s surprise.  She was thankful the shop owner agreed to let her in even though they were not ready to open yet and the sun hadn’t come up.  Josephine knew this move might draw attention to her but did it anyway.  Emma was expecting a surprise and what a lovely surprise this would be! 

Once she’d put the items into her satchel, they would change along with her and she could take her bat form and make it to her cave just before sunrise.  She slept well, dreaming of Emma coloring the most beautiful flowers!  Emma loved flowers so much because she rarely got to see them at night.  Most flowers closed up before Emma could make her way outdoors to enjoy them.  That’s why she always got a dress for her birthday, covered in flowers!

Josephine was so excited to bring Emma’s surprise that she woke just as the sun was setting, instead of waking long after the night had taken over.  She took flight as soon as it was safe to do so!  As she flew over the forest, she notice many men, maybe 10 or so, walking through the trees with torches in hand.  They seemed to be walking away from the area where Emma lived.  Josephine immediately worried that maybe something was wrong near where Emma’s family lived and flew faster to make sure they were okay!

As she approached the little farmhouse, something immediately seemed off.  There were many candles still lit in the home, which was not usually the case since Emma’s father slept during the night.  Getting closer to the house revealed what looked like Emma and her mother and father, laying in the yard behind the house.  Why would that be?  Something was not right.  Josephine was flying as fast as she possibly could now, using the energy she now had from the human meal she’d just drank the night before.  She landed in mid stride and hurried towards the farmhouse, now holding the wax sticks and paper tightly in her hands.

There, laid out on the ground behind the house, were Emma’s father and mother, both with their throats slit from ear to ear.  Little Emma was several feet away from where they lay.  She had a large wooden steak sticking straight out of her chest, in an obvious attempt to vanquish a vampire that didn’t exist in the little girl.

Josephine wailed so loudly that birds in the nearby trees all scattered.  She felt like her own heart had been ripped from her chest and she couldn’t breathe.  How could anyone do such a thing to an innocent, defenseless child?  Then, Josephine realized what must have happened.

As she sat beside Emma’s lifeless body, holding her tightly to her chest, Josephine realized the townspeople must have thought Emma was the Vampiress attacking the animals and townspeople.  Because she is so pale and only comes out at night, they must have seen her during the night that Josephine wasn’t with her.  Josephine was swallowed up by her grief and guilt and then, only by rage.

Josephine was consumed with more rage than she had ever known in all of her 300 years.  She longed only for revenge and she would have it.  Dropping the colored wax and paper next to Emma’s still body, Josephine ran and leaped into her bat form and headed straight to the group of men walking away from this house of horrors.

As she approached them, she heard them laughing about killing the family, talking of how the mother squealed when they grabbed the little Vampire girl.  Idiots.  Josephine landed a ways in front of them and dropped her cloak from her body.  She would no longer need it for she would not be hiding tonight.

With eyes as red as fire and red hair down to her backside now, Josephine stomped toward the surprised men, each step commanding more respect than the last.  After a good meal, she was extremely strong and had the ability to move things without even being near them.  These ten men fancied themselves able to defend against her.  They were wrong.  She shouted at them loudly enough to sting their ears and startle animals into running in every direction.

“How dare you take the life of an innocent child.  You will know fear this night.”

With that, she raised her hands and every man present lifted up off the ground almost ten feet in the air.  She immediately dropped them back to the ground, throwing them off of their planned defense of swinging axes and torches.  Pathetic creatures.  One threw his ax at her and she batted it away with a flick of her wrist before it even reached her.  With that, every man turned to flee in any direction but hers.  She threw up her left hand and they all froze in place, terrified looks on each of their deplorable faces.  By raising her right hand, one of the men began to rise 5 feet into the air before she flicked her wrist again and sent him sailing into a nearby tree, breaking his neck. 

Her gaze then darted over to another man and he immediately pissed himself when their eyes met.  Miserable fool.  This is the one that had laughed about killing Emma’s mother.  Josephine put her right hand on his neck, still holding the others captive with her left hand, and she squeezed his neck until it collapsed under the pressure and blood shot out of every orifice of his head!  This left spatter on her face which made her all the more terrifying to look at.

The man to her left was her next victim.  She casually plunged her hand into his chest and ripped out his heart, licking a stream of blood that flowed down her arm.  She wanted to draw out every bit of terror from these men by forcing them to watch as she killed them, one by one.  After tossing the heart to the side, she reached down and grabbed a fallen ax and slowly approached the next man.  She swung the ax with one hand, with such precision and speed that it took his head right off but he continued to be held up like the others, even as his head hit the ground with a thud.

With six men remaining, she yelled, “You will all die tonight but the last of you will be my meal.” and every man seemed to shudder in place.  Josephine allowed the headless man to fall to the ground now, just to emphasize her complete control of them.  She looked at one man, who appeared to be younger than the rest, and released his head from her magical grip so he could speak.  She asked him, “Why did you do this terrible thing tonight?  Did you not know that child was born injured by the sun?”  She really just wanted to know why.  She wanted to make sense of something that seemed senseless.  She longed to be released from the guilt she felt but it would not be so.

The young man stammered a bit and then mumbled something about Vampires being evil and that they were just doing what had to be done.  Josephine immediately knew this moron would be her dinner that night.  He was young and healthy and would make an excellent meal for her travels far away from this place.  She froze his head again and moved on.  The next unfortunate soul was behind the young man.  She lifted him very high into the air, maybe 30 feet or so, and dropped him hard onto a large rock that was just to the side of the group of men.  His head practically exploded on impact.  She heard an audible moan from the remaining men and knew she was achieving what she sought to do.  The men were fearful and they should’ve been.  They crossed the wrong Vampiress that night.

Five men left, one for a meal and the rest for play.  She lifted two of them into the air and brought them down hard on their legs over and over until both their legs were shattered and they had passed out from the pain.  Josephine then suddenly clinched her right hand into a fist and both of their heads imploded and splattered all over the ground.

Three men left.  With her left hand still in the air holding them firmly in place, Josephine slowing walked over to one of the men and whispered into his ear, “Maybe I’ll turn you so you can entertain me for the rest of eternity.  Would you like to be my partner for a hundred lifetimes?”

A huge grin formed on his disgusting face and she immediately ripped his throat out with her teeth.  “Not in this lifetime or any other.  You are not worthy.”  She was now covered in blood and almost done with her vengeful act.  Josephine turned to the other man and asked him the same question.  His expression was one of pure horror because he knew what was coming.  By that point, he had watched helplessly as all but one of his comrades had been taken out, one by one, by an extremely angry Vampiress.  Yes, he knew she would not spare him and she was glad.  He’d shown Emma no mercy, therefore he would be shown no mercy.  Josephine laughed and then flicked her right wrist, breaking the man’s back and contorting him in an unnatural position.  She then turned her eyes on the young man she’d spoken to earlier.

“Do you remember what I told you?  I will kill all but one, who will become my meal.  Do you understand what that means for you?”

“I do.  I’m sorry.  Please, I’m my father’s only son.  Don’t let our bloodline die.  Please!” His plea sounded ridiculous.  She laughed in his face.

“You showed that family no mercy.  Did they beg you to let their daughter live?  I’m sure they did and you ignored their plea.” Josephine was suddenly tired of this whole endeavor now and wished to be done with these useless humans.  She opened her mouth and allowed him to see her teeth grow in anticipation of meeting his carotid artery.  He gasped and then she sunk her teeth deep into his neck, drinking with pleasure and draining every drop.  Two meals in two nights.  She felt such strength and power.  This must be why most Vampires give into their hunger every night instead of fighting it the way she did.  Why was she even attempting to spare these useless humans?  Look what they do to their own kind.

There was still enough time in the night to make it into the nearby mountains so she immediately gathered her cloak and took her bat form, circling the area first to make sure she hadn’t been seen.  She needed to move quickly for these men would be missed before too long.  A search party would be sent and they would know by the devastation that they were not dealing with a simple bear or mountain lion.  They would go looking for her, as if they could defeat her anyway.  She didn’t fear them.  She only tried to avoid killing unnecessarily.  In her fading anger, she knew there are some humans worth saving.  Worth protecting.  She vowed to never make this mistake again.  This child didn’t deserve what happened to her and Josephine would see to it that she didn’t cause this kind of tragedy again.  Loneliness was her only companion now.

She flew each night until she was several towns away and was safe enough to resume hunting.  This time, Josephine decided to look for specific prey.  Humans who preyed on their own would be her target now.  Every town would have some.  She would integrate herself into their town just enough to find them.  Then, she would feast.


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