A Parable about overcoming adversity and learning a valuable lesson....

The Malevolent Secret of Hardrosty Hall

By J. Smith

I arrived at Hardrosty Hall a lonely, bereft orphan. My reprobate father had left my innocent mother for a small-waisted dance-hall girl, and the saintly soul had gone insane and thrown herself into the swirling Thames. My father was later found strangled with a stocking.

I was a desperate animal, shaking with fear and hunger. My shoes were caked with mud and my brow flushed with fever. As thunder roared around me, a jagged streak of lightning ripped through the sky and struck a massive oak tree. It crackled in two and fell, landing inches from where I stood. Was this a foreshadowing of things to come?

I had been summoned by the mysterious and reclusive Monsieur Laparente, who had agreed to take me in upon learning of my parents untimely demise. Rumor has it that my mother (whom I resemble to an astonishing degree) had spurned his lustful affections years ago. But what was his interest in me?

I felt misgivings, but.....anything for a free meal, I always say.

The door creaked open and a ghostly, wizened face appeared. "You must be Eliza. Enter. Monsieur has been expecting you."

I followed the hunched and achient form into a dark, dusty room, draped with velvit curtains and alblaze with the light of dozens of candles.

Monsieur Laparente stood with his back to me near the crackling fireplace. When he spun around, I could not help but gasp: His teeth came to ivory points, and his eyes were bright yellow and feline in appearence. Bloodstains dotted his shirt.

My pulse quickened. Something was not right....

So I pulled the wooden stake from under my bodice and thrust it deep into his chest. And a few well-placed kicks to the gut disabled the creaky old geezer. Then I cut his head off just to be on the safe side.

For you see, my meek appearence belies an observant nature.

And I always carry a wooden stake when venturing into unfamiliar surroundings of a Gothic nature. I'm no dummy.

I tore the bejeweled pendant from the dead vampire's neck and began compiling a mental list of reliable pawnshops. If I hurried I could get to the one near the Maison Derriere, where the kind owner Yvette housed my prescious and loving poodle.

***

Please be aware that there is, in truth, no end. Thank you.