A New Dusk

It was still daylight outside. Elysia was waiting for her son's safe return. No matter what she did she couldn't seem to keep her mind occupied. Jo and Helga had better respect her wishes for them to return sooner rather than later. She knew they would be back well before dusk. She had often felt bitter about being turned into a vampire against her will, but now there was a new dimension to it. She was a creature of the night - she couldn't take her own son out on daytrips. How inadequate she felt. A mortal child needed daylight activity. He couldn't very well lead an entirely nocturnal life. Still, Elysia supposed that if she had not been able to find a nanny of Jo's credentials she would have taken absolutely no chances with letting Leif out of her sight at all.

As had been her custom before adopting Leif, the vampire went down to the crypts to talk to the deceased. It helped her to mull things over sometimes. She most often visited the crypt of her mortal father. She had saved him from her evil uncle who had already bitten and contaminated her. The Count Darkholm who had attained his vampiric status through nefarious means had revealed to her horror, that he had long intended her harm. His efforts to make her into his slave had failed however. He evidently had not been as skilled at mind control as he fancied. She had lain him to rest so that he could not threaten her mortal father. But her father had succumbed to old age eventually. It had torn a piece out of her heart when he died – so old and shrivelled. After that she could only visit his crypt and try and imagine how he would respond when she spoke to him.

On this day however something else was occupying her mind. She entered the crypt where she had placed the body of Leif's biological mother, whom she had been too late to save from the psychopathic murderer that night on the beach. The young woman was now in a crystal coffin, one that would keep her perfectly preserved for all time. Elysia had dressed her in a white gown and she lay with her hands clasped on her breasts, as though she were merely sleeping. Elysia entered the crypt. The torches were still burning brightly there. She set to work, replacing the white roses that had begun to wilt. "Good afternoon dear," she said. "Look, fresh roses. Your son – our son is on an outing today. I'll be taking him to the theatre myself tonight." Elysia glided over to the coffin and leaned over the dead woman. "I'm so sorry I arrived just moments too late to save you, but..." the vampire's voice quivered, tears shone in her dark eyes and then splashed onto the woman's face. They landed on her eyelids and trickled down her cold cheeks, giving the impression that she was crying herself. "Don't cry dear," said Elysia choking back sobs. "I did save Leif from that beast of a man. I arrived in time for that. And Leif is such a fine young fellow. He's been the light of my life since that night." Leif's mother had been a very good looking young woman. Her features had not been quite as graceful and perfect as Leif's, but there was no doubt that she had been stunningly beautiful in life. Her yellow hair was soft and pure as fine spun gold and curled gently about her face. The vampire spoke to her again. "I'll look after him now. I can provide for him. Forgive me dear, but you were never very well off, financially, were you...?" Elysia sighed. "Look at us, stuck in a crypt like this while it falls to Jo to take him on a daytrip," she said. "Not to worry, it's just a little bump in the road. We'll be the perfect household I promise you."

Jo entered the confectioners, holding Leif by the hand, Helga bringing up the rear. It was a small place and very dingy.

"I never knew of this place," said Helga doubtfully. "Doesn't appear to be first class."

"Shh," warned Jo.

There was a tinkling of a bell and an old woman shuffled up to the counter. "Hello chicks," she said, her voice clear and penetrating. "What'll it be you babes?"

"Babes?" Said Helga raising an eyebrow. Was this strange old woman trying to be funny?

Leif giggled at her surprise. "We want gingerbread," he said to the old woman. "I would take some home to my mum, but I don't think she can eat it."

"You're never too old for gingerbread angel," said the old woman.

"Mummy is nearly three hundred you know?" said Leif.

"A mere sapling," declared the old woman. "I was well out of my teens when the world was made."

"Who would have thought I would be the baby of any group?" said Helga sardonically.

"I believe your prices are as reasonable as ever today?" Said Jo.

"Yes, just thruppence," said the old woman. "Come on Jo, stick one on me." Leif raised his eyebrows as Jo stuck a threepenny bit on the old woman's cardigan and it stuck there as though it were a button sewn on. Helga gave a grimace and a little shrug.

"Here you have an angel shaped cake for free Leif," said the old woman handing Leif a dark cake.

"Thanks," said Leif beaming. "I wish I did know what to get mummy. What does a vampire want most?"

"Oh ho don't go there," chuckled the old woman. "But mere girls of just centuries old like flowers."

"You're clever," said Leif.

"Charming boy," said the old woman smiling.

"We'll visit the florist on the way back," said Jo. "There are lots of bright flowers there. I think any bright colour goes well with black hair."

"Just as long as we are back well before sunset," said Helga nervously. "You don't want Elysia to have to come out and look for us do you?"

Later that afternoon they arrived back in the Inner Sanctum and Elysia greeted them enthusiastically, picking Leif up and kissing him. "I've got you a present mummy," said Leif. "But it's a surprise so you have to close your eyes." Elysia smiled and after she had put him down, knelt on the floor before him, covering her eyes with her hands. Leif carefully placed a ring of forget-me-not flowers in her hair. "Alright, you can look," said Leif.

"I'm so glad it all went so well," said Helga to Jo as Elysia made an exclamation of delight at the gift of flowers.

"Theatre tonight," said Elysia giving the women a warm smile as she held Leif in her arms. "Your carriage awaits. I'll set off at dusk."

Once they arrived at the theatre, Helga and Jo took Leif up to the box that had been specially reserved for them. They were the best seats in the house. Servants regularly brought them refreshments. "Is the play starting soon?" Asked Leif.

"Soon," said Jo soothingly.

"The curtain has to open first," said Helga. The audience were still talking softly amongst themselves. The lights in the theatre dimmed.

"Not started yet I see. Good." The low, soft voice of Elysia uttered these words from right beside Helga.

"Oh no you are just in time," said Helga giving a little start.

Elysia chuckled. "Sorry Helga, I didn't mean to startle you. Dusk has just set in. I came as soon as the sun went down." Elysia could make the journey to the theatre in moments, unassisted. She picked Leif up and put him on her knee. He snuggled against her. "This is about me darling," she said. "It shows how I am remembered."

The play was a prettified account of a time many decades ago when London had been under threat by vicious lycanthropes and Elysia had been pivotal in repelling and then crushing them. The actress playing Elysia rather amused the vampire. Really she had never acted in such a brassy way as that... "She hasn't nearly so nice a voice as you have, mummy," said Leif. Elysia stroked his hair.

An actor playing a lycanthrope stalked onto the stage, greeted by boos and hisses from the audience. He was terrifying some suburban people who were barricaded in their house. "Little pigs, little pigs, let me in," he crooned.

"Do werewolves always call people pigs?" Leif wondered.

"That one did," Elysia told him. "He was a madman to begin with."

The actress who played Elysia came onstage to defeat the werewolf in a casual way, uttering a smart quip. Elysia gave a small smile. Really when she was in a battle frenzy it was not a pretty or elegant sight. In such a situation as that her mood shift was terrifying.

Finally came the end of the play and it was told how Elysia defeated the arch lycanthrope, a follower of the dark forces and sent the demon he had summoned to grant him power back to the pit it came from. Thus the plague of lycanthropy had been ended and the humanity of the other werewolves restored. A song struck up:

"And so it was written,

That monster was smitten,

He'd finally bitten the dust.

That beast had been buried by one girl on her own,

Whilst striking this masterful pose.

And a legend was born, the very next morn,

That's how the story goes."