This is where it begins. Before the man, in the dark, with the
knife, or the woman, in the observatory. Before the many dour and
sleep deprived faces gather before a rectangular table, before
the boy is crowned or bitten or kidnapped. In the dusty, narrow
and maze like lanes of Low town, the story begins. It is not the
first beginning, but it is an original one. Because it is perhaps
the first to start with laundry. That should tell you straight
away, this is going to get good.
Hilda Goodsung had long ago accepted the inevitable fact that she
probably wouldn't amount to much. At the top of her list as to
why were the following, firstly she was a girl. This was never a
very good way to start a life in a feudal kingdom. Secondly she
was a middle sister of four girls. And then there was the name
Hilda. No one expected any thing of Hilda. It was a dependable
name, right enough. It had loyalty and determination baked into
it's bones, yes. But what it didn't have was star factor. Her
oldest sister had married a baker and now led a large brood of
children. Her middle sister, Nancy, was inevitably talented. And
her youngest sister, Christine, was impossibly beautiful. She
used to, when she was younger, get rather depressed about it. Now
she didn't bother.
"Help me out with the washing, dear."
"Yes, mother." Hilda said, putting down the spoon and heading
towards the wash house. Her mother was already there, struggling
to pick up the huge wash basket. "Here mum, I'll do that." She
said, picking it up with one heave.
"Oh, you are such a good girl. Come on then." She was also big.
Not fat, because you couldn't get fat on table scraps, but big.
She was five eleven at nineteen and didn't see any where to stop.
She reached her hand up onto the shed roof and pulled down the
pegs. They hung the clothes in mostly silence, Hilda's mother
humming under her breath. It was a nursery rhyme, but probably
not one that got sung much out of low town. It went,
Oh pity this poor sinner
I've gone and lost my way
My hands are in the barracks
And they say the noose
Is on its way
I shan't say I didn't mean it all
I regret no single thing
I even posses the gall
To open my mouth and sing
They say I'm for the hang mans noose
But I'll be gone before sun rise
Back to my thieving ways
Or in search of bluer skies
Hilda hummed it with her, more out of boredom than any thing
else. They were in the tricky part of the second verse when
Christine burst through. Her dress a little torn, but beautiful
despite it. "Christine! What is it dear?"
She fainted. Of course she did. But she did it slowly, so her
hair caught the sun and her dress didn't get dirty. Hilda walked
up to her, a bundle of pegs clenched in her hand.
"Christine, what is it?"
"Oh! Oh Hilda! Oh, my dear Hilda, it's terrible! Truly, truly
Seeing that she was trying for an encore, Hilda grabbed her
sisters shoulders and shook her till she rattled. Funny thing
about Christine, sooner rather than later you just wanted to
shake the chit until she stopped exclaiming things.
"Ah? Ah! Stop it!"
"Give her here then," Mother said taking the little actress and
glaring down at her with a now-no-more-of-this expression.
Christine subsided with a pout.
"Now. What was it that's so terrible, then?"
"It's Nancy! She's declared love for the vampire boy up at the
"Oh." Hilda and Mother said in unison. This was terrible.
In the castle of the Montague's, three figures in black, lounged.
Their long legs thrown over chair arms as they sipped from long
stemmed wine glasses. It was noon, and the dark velvet curtains
were drawn tight.
"Well, this is absolutely predictable." The blonde one said
swishing his drink. The red fluid spiralled in its container,
threatening to congeal.
"Don't be nonsensical Patriot. It's usually the youngest if you
"Ah yes," said Patriot. "That would be the pretty one
"Indeed." The third said.
"This would be the second youngest," said Patriot, "The talented
"It is usually the case, yes."
"So maybe not completely predictable. Are you interested in her,
Roman just rolled his brown eyes.
"Well, perhaps she could be interesting."
"Indeed." Said the third member of their group.
"We could invite her to dinner."
"Hmmm. I'm sure the cook would appreciate the opportunity to
actually cook some thing."
"What do you think Cavern?" Cavern the third member of their
group, still as a statue and hidden completely in shadow, nodded.
And then, after a pause, "We should invite them all to lunch. The
three unmarried girls and their mother. It could be
very…educational." This is what served for a speech from Cavern
and both vampires looked at each other, suitably surprised.
"Any ideas on what to serve for lunch?' Patriot ventured.
"Don't look at me," Roman said, one eye brow raised, "We only do
desert, and then it's really just for ambience."
"Some thing….light? Perhaps?"
"A…salad?" Roman said, trying each syllable out individually.
"Is that the humorous confection made of horse hooves?"
"I think your talking about jelly."
"What's a salad then?"
The third member of their party seemed to almost roll his eyes,
of course this was unseen by the others two. He stood, probably
not even noticing how well he commanded their attention, and
walked out of the room. Halting briefly at the door, he said in a
voice as solemn as funeral bells and as bored as lint, "I will
discuss the menu with the chief. Myself. I will leave all other
matters in your very capable hands, of course."
"Are you to rest, friend?" said Patriot.
Cavern nodded. "Wake me when the night calls."
When he had left, the two looked at each other. "I don't know
about you" Patriot said, "but some times do you get the
"No. Better not to talk about it."
"Better not to ask, friend. You might get answers."