Striving for consciousness, she lay covered in her own blood.
Remains of the damage lay scattered across the floor, the door broken down and contents of the once appealing little cottage destroyed; a symbol of her lost innocence.
Marianne had not seen the face of her intruder as he knocked her to the ground, nor did she see him as the knife entered her body just below the abdomen. What she did see was an ‘L’ shaped scar on the back of his neck as he abandoned her to die.
Moments before, Marianne had heard the shouts of her one true love coming from the tea room. Abandoning her bible, she jerked out of the reading chair and ran instinctively towards the pandemonium.
A wailing scream erupted from her lungs, threatening to tear them open as she discovered the stained floor. A few metres ahead lay her husband, blood leaking from his head.
This was the work of an old lover - blind with jealousy, seeing only revenge.
A single tear started to form as the image flashed through her mind. Unable to move, Marianne’s life was slowly but surely fading.
Then it happened.
The last thing she remembered before awakening was the sound of fresh footsteps in the house. Not the previous intruder, but a new presence.
“You’re going to die.” The voice whispered to her ear.
“You’re going to die. But unlike your husband, you are the one I have chosen. “
A set of cool hands placed a necklace around Marianne’s neck.
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
The year was 1789.
It was nearing nightfall which meant two things to the burly man inside the compound; it was time to feed the prisoner. The second thing the nearing darkness represented was that his duties were almost over and he could make his way back home and prepare for the evening’s events.
A dead chicken sat on the table beside him. Revolting he thought, the perfect dinner for the prisoner. He had been transferred to this compound for one night only and this was the first time he was going to meet the prisoner; he did not care for it. The stories he had heard had been unbelievable, to say the least. She was a convicted murderer. No, he was not looking forward to this at all.
Picking the chicken up in his arm, he unlocked the cellar door and let his mind wander, leaving the keys inside the lock. Not wanting to pay attention to the prisoner inside.
Tonight was a special night.
He would be visited by his young niece and nephew, accompanied by his brother John and his wife Lola. The last time he had seen them had been a most terrible occasion. They had appeared to him in a nightmare. He wasn’t sure of the details, but he could remember the chaos. People had been falling. Water had been turned red. The screams of young children cut through the air. And one person in particular was smiling. A smile that was enough to turn anyone’s blood cold.
He didn’t know why he saw such images. His brother John was the one who usually had nightmares, brought on by the disintegration of a previous marriage; one that Robert believed was his brother’s true love, however this was never spoken about.
Throwing the chicken onto the floor inside the cell, he went to turn and leave.
Something had caught his eye.
Slowly turning to face the prisoner inside the cell, he saw the most beautiful piece of treasure he had ever set eyes upon.
He needed to have this. He didn’t know why, but he did.
Extending his hand with the intention to rip the necklace from the prisoner’s neck was the exact moment it began. The exact moment that changed everything. The exact moment that altered the course of history. The mistake that cost thousands of people their lives.
Her back leant across the cracked, stone wall bearing nothing but spiders and the remains of the last victim. It was cold, it was wet, the windows were sealed and the door locked.
The lightning outside pierced through the eighteenth century air revealing for one quick moment where the woman was isolated. An underground cellar in the heart of France, designed only for one person and only used for the uttermost torture, the cell contained a prisoner of war.
Her name was unknown but anyone who saw her face would not forget it. She wore nothing but a scarlet rag draped and tied around her body. Her long black hair covered most of her pale neck except for the ‘pentagon’ style golden necklace, which seemed the only thing that was of any value on this prisoner. Her eyes contained a speck of red which shone brightly through her “whiter than white”, dead looking face.
What was so important about this woman or so dangerous that led her to be isolated from the rest of the world?
She had been in here too long thought the woman. It was time to get her revenge. She had been placed in the cellar for the mass murder of hundreds of civilians, which started a war between her and the people of France. Finally one day she had been caught and classified as a “prisoner of war”.
The door of the cellar started to move. It stiffly opened revealing a burly man who, judging by the chicken limp in his arm was obviously there to feed the woman. Leaving the door open he slowly approached her while she lay asleep on the moss-eaten floor. Throwing the dead chicken that he carried nervously onto the floor, the man went to turn and leave but froze dead in his tracks. Slowly turning to face the woman he saw the Pentagon necklace illuminated by the moonlight let in by the open door. As carefully as he could, like he had just seen the most extravagant thing in his life, forgetting about the unattended keys which he had left in the cellar door, he approached the sleeping woman.
Without realising it, every step he took towards her was a step closer to his death.
His outstretched hand grabbed the necklace but before he could even rip it off the woman’s fragile neck, his blood was being drained from him.
She had ferociously leapt up, curled her hands around his neck and sunk her teeth hungrily into his flesh. Drinking the blood as it gushed out of the main artery in his neck; the man had done his job. He had feed her. The woman’s eyes glowed red with triumph while her victim moaned weakly. Entranced in a state of pain and euphoria the man slowly slipped into unconsciousness.
Feeling she had had enough and the man was dead, she threw him onto the floor.
Within seconds the nightmare France had dreaded was outside the cellar in the open field not far from the city. A dirt path that ran through the field into the city was being disturbed by a family of four in their horse and cart. The woman set her eyes upon them. Now feeling a massive surge of power, she laid herself on the path and closed her eyes. The noises of the two screaming children and their parents came closer.
Beckoning. Taunting. Enticing France’s nightmare.
Suddenly they noticed her. Thinking she was dead they stopped the horse and cart with the intention to examine the woman. After all, the family of four were honourable, law abiding, god fearing citizens. It was the moral thing to do, almost their duty to help the woman.
A young boy was the first to greet the body.
Not knowing how dangerously close they were to her, the boy whispered “She looks as dead as a vampire”.
An evil grin spread across the woman’s face, she opened her eyes, leapt up and curled her hands around the child’s neck.
France’s nightmare lives on.