May 15, 1895
The countryside of England

"Only a few more days before I turn sixteen, Mumma." I walk into the garden, a slight skip in my step.

Me, my mother and father are at my grandparents home on the countryside. It may as well be a mansion.

My mother smiles and strokes my cheek. Her brown eyes crinkle with happiness.

"My little Piper, my sweet little girl... she's becoming a lady."

I blush and look down. My grandmother takes a sip of her tea.

Mother speaks again."She's grown to be quite beautiful, don't you think mother?" Grandmother takes another sip of her tea, and stares at me through critical eyes. "Yes, I suppose she's quite fair. Turn around, Piper." I oblige by slowly turning in a circle. The soft green grass tickles my toes, and it's a joyous feeling, the grass tickling my toes.

Too bad no girl except me can feel it.

"Very lovely," she finally sighed," I suppose she shall fetch some fair suitors."

I smile and accept the compliment, though I know I have no intentions to wed. Men are expectimg of girls to serve them like maids in all ways imaginable. But it doesn't matter. My parents think I'm enough of a lady that I don't need to go to finishing school. But I'm not, really.

I walk barefoot. I'm stubborn and defiant. I refuse to obey anyone, As long as nobody in my relation finds out, I am safely on my island of security.

"So, Rhonda, Wally," my grandmother smiles,"what school shall Piper be attending? My mother's smile is still on her face, but less sincere. Her eyes flicker with nervousness. I smile. She hasn't yet told them I shant be attending. My father glances at my mother, his green eyes flickering with concern, then flashing back to normal. He clears his throat,"Piper, go and fetch us all some more tea like a good lady."

I smile."Of course." I turn and walk up to the rather large house that welcomes me with the sweet scent of cinnamon. I inhale deeply, the cool tile making me stand on my toes and heels. I walk to the kitchen, the hot kettle of water past prepared.

I set out the silver tray with cups and saucers, and pour the water. The kettle hits the stove with a loud clank as I put it back,and head out the door with the tray. I walk out the large double doors to the garden where my family is. I sigh as my feet rest upon the green earth with every step I take. I walk towards my father, as the men must always be served first. My grandmother is speaking.

"Yes, yes. Conswell is a wonderful finishing school." she waves her hand with a flourish. "It has a reputation for turning out first class society ladies."

I pause, making sure everything is on the tray.

"Every girl who attends that school suceeds in getting a husband with a large dowry."

"I'm sure they have," I nod politely.

"Oh Piper, I'm so happy you shall be attending Conswell..." she says more, but her voice is drowned out by the thoughts running through my head.

Conswell? I can;t be going to finishing school! Why is this happening? How?

I feel the tray slipping through my ow limp fingers. We al watch as the tray hits the grass, and all the cups shatter against the ground,the brown liquid inside spilling onto the grass.

"Piper!" my grandfather harumps. I look around at them, their experssions all the same: stunned. A feeling of andger seizes me.

"I thought I wasn't going to finishing school!" I yell at my parents.

"Not going?" grandmother repeats, unamused.

"That tone isn't appreciated," my father warns. I stare at him.

"You said I wouldn't go!"

"You're going." my mother says nervously,glancing at her parents.

"No, I'm not!" I yell," I won't!"

"Piper Lynn Mason!" my father glares at me. I know I should hold my tongue. But I'm too angry to pay mind any warnings. I feel as though a dagger was drawn through my stomach. The stench of betrayl is clear and it's most unpleasant. It drives me forward. I want to stop. I know I should stop. But I can't.

"I refuse to go to a bloody finishing school to become a lady. I was born a lady!" I know it's not true.

"Watch your language." mother tries not to yell.

"I'll watch what I please!" I scream."And furthermore, I will not marry a man who will no doubt bean old fat...fool!"

I feel my energy draining from me now. My grandmother,grandfather, mother and father all stare at me, looks of anger and disappointment on their face. I pick up the teacup on the grass. The only one that survived. The last survivor, like me.

"Piper,"my angry mother speaks through clenched teeth. Her brown eyes are no longer warm. Coldness takes their place."You are going to finishing school, come June. I wish to hear no more about it!"

I stare at her blinking rapidly, to hide the tears of pain. I caress the smooth cup one last time before speaking flatly.

"Then you shall hear no more about it."

I raise my hand and use all my force to bring it back down,releasing the teacup. I turn and run as fast as the corsets I wear will permit me to, the sound of the teacup shattering echoing in my ears, just as my dreams, my hope for life in general.

oooooooooo

I open my eyes to the sound of floorboards creaking. I sit up in my bed and look around. We're still in my grandparent's house. The golden globe in the sky shines thin streaks of faded light into the bedroom. My eyes adjust to the darkness easily with the help of that light. I carefully and quietly get out of my bed. I cringe as my bare feet recieve a shock of coolness from the marble floor.

I right myself and walk towards my door. The moon is now hidden behind wispy clouds. The darkness gives me goose skin as I shiver. I open the door, which replies with a long, drawn-out creak. I refrain from movement, listening for signs that I've roused anyone from sleep. When I get no response, I continue.

I have a bad feeling and it's taunting me by kicking my stomach.

There's absolutely no light at all in the hallway. I place my hand against the wall, and slowly walk forward, my eyes unable to adjust to the pure black. I feel as if I'm being swallowed by the pure darkness, and it scares me slightly. But on I continue. Finally, I reach the kitchen. All has been quiet thus far.

A clank echoes in my ears, and I jump, quickly steadying myself. I reach to open the door to the kitchen, but something feels wrong. I glance around in the blackness, but it doesn't do any good. I can't see anything.

"Is anyone there?" my voice comes out in a whimper.

Piper...

Perspiration forms on my forehead as I look around nervously. I feel small and weak in the darkness. If only I could see enough to turn and run, I'd feel reassured.

"Yes?" I answer in a whisper.

Piper...

That does it. I try furiously to run back to my room, but I can't. It's as if my hands are glued to the wall, my feet to the ground. I thrash furiously, trying to break free as panic rises in me. What's going on? I want to say. I want to scream for help, yet, somewhere inside of me, I don't deem it necessary.

Piper...Piper...

All of my senses are lost, and I'm struck parylized. I can't move at all!

The dim light of the moon slowly fades, now hiding behind the clouds. My eyes feel strange, tingling as they try to adjust to the sudden change. It now occurs to me that before the moonlight abandoned me, it wasn't very dark at all. Now, I can't see a thing. I wish I could say something pleasant aloud, simply, if not for any other reason, to calm myself - perhaps if I can cover my own eyes with the illusion of merriness instead of fear, I will feel better - but I cannot, for I haven't been very jolly as of late, and even in a desperate state such as this, I find I can't force myself to heave from within my being a single word.

And then, as if to bring my mental well-being to yet another level of despair, the darkness seems to get darker. To acquire a slight bit of solidity. Oh, God, I can feel the darkness of the room- creeping on my skin, raising the tiny hairs on the back of my neck, engulfing me in a warm, yet unsettling cacoon of disturbia...

And as if to complete this total nightmare to a level of completion only a disturbingly obsessive overachiever would dare seek out, a figure appears in front of me. A girl, my age. Her appearance both frightens and confuses me. She's completely white, as are her clothes. She is wearing a hooded cloak, the hood covering her face completely. A few strands of hair rest elegantly against the jewel brooch that holds the hood in place. So ends the proper appearance. Her dress is dirty, ripped, and covered in all unimaginable dirt and grime. Her feet are bare. Other than the cloak, she looks like she's been a prisoner of war. However, the thing that scares me most about her is that she looks completely transparent, yet completely opaque at the same time.

The girl seems delicate, harmless. Yet, there is something menacing in the way she vanishes from her spot ten feet away from me and appears right in front of my face, the only thing proving she actually moved is a blurred, white shadow tracing her dangerously fast track of movement. She opens her mouth and speaks with an almost frightening style.

Piper... She speaks my name and her quiet voice seems to be coming from everywhere at once, beginning in a soft, gentle voice, and ending in an eerie whisper. Piper...you're the one...

The one? Surely she must be mistaken. The one what, exactly? However, I still find it difficult to move. Not that I'd want to, as the gentle-hostile one in front of me might take movement of mine as a threat...

Don't fail them...

Who?

You mustn't. You need to see their despairs...and save them.

And I found my voice. "What do you mean?"

And suddenly her voice wasn't so pleasant, if you could even call it that in the beginning phases. Instead, her voice came out in an eerie growl, full of voices of people in misery, the spirits of the damned in contempt at me: SAVE THEM!

I tried to lift my hands to sheild myself. Instead, the girl flew up to the ceiling, and swooped down. I could hear her cry out, the melody of pain, the song of the damned. Yet, it seemed she was singing to me as she hurdled herself towards the ground from the high ceiling:

A woman crying oil tears that are not her own
Trapped inside for many years a marble cage of stone
Two figures cruel at heart yet warmer than they seem
Three paths, all will kill, yet one will set you free...

Right as she would've hit the floor were she as solid as she seemed, she vanished, quick as a blink. Instantly, the moonlight was streaming through the window again, hitting the floor exactly where the girl had vanished. I blinked. Had it all really happened? I turned and ran towards my room. I could contemplate it all in the safety of my bed. I pushed away the thought that in reality, a bed wouldn't save me from the damned. I might as well stand with my arms open and ask them to be best chums.

oooooooooooo

"Piper, wake up."

I don't open my eyes, but I rub them, the events of last night nothing more than a mere memory at the bottom of my brain, like a forgotten toy at the bottom of a toy chest, covered by new toys. I was about to get a new toy. But an unpleasant one.

"Your mother is in the carrige, waiting. You head to Conswell today, Miss. Remember?" A very unpleasant toy indeed. My eyes immediately open.

The sight of Elsie, one of the maids, greeted me. Her round, plump face gave her the cuteness and innocence of a young girl, yet she was older than I. She was 18. Her blue eyes held a shyness in them that sentenced her full pink lips to never open unless deemed necessary. Patiently, she helped me dress.

Secretly, I wished that it was her twin sister Emmie, who was with me. She was the exact opposite, always merry and jaunty and jolly and always with a jesting word. Just the medicine I needed on my last day at home. The sedative to make me forget that today I shall head off to Conswell. Emmie wouldn't have said a word about Conswell. She'd have let my death been a quick painless one. Offer to take me on a walk, and then quickly and swiftly, place me in the guillotine, and before I could take a moment's worth of comprehension, killed me. Elsie, however, has just told me my death sentence before hand, giving me the wait in the prison cell and the long walk to the execution to mull my mind over the fact that I would die in 24 hours, 12 hours, 1 hour, 30 minutes...10 seconds...

And I wish to smack her for it. But instead, I am polite. Extremely polite. I'm like a little girl, hoping that maybe if she's quiet and well behaved all the way home, her mother will miraculously forget how horridly she'd behaved in church, and she'll avoid a spanking.

But the ride home is too short for any good behavior to be noticed.

Within a half hour, I am walking out to the carrige, with Mith, the butler, carrying my bags, and the footman helping me into the prison where I'll be for 24 hours before my execution is to take place.