Sidney felt the darkness first, the road crunching underfoot, frozen with snow, the ice cracking on the trees far above her head, sharp and jagged shards of ice falling on her shawl. The sounds woke her from a slumber that felt more like death than sleep.
The sluggish swaying of her head indicated to her that she was walking, although why she had no idea. Her eyes opened, or at least she thought they did, only to confirm the utter lack of light punctuated by a sliver of gleaming white some distance ahead. The bitter cold assaulted her eyes. It appeared to be a reflected light, a light without an apparent source, a light much too bright for the oppressive blackness surrounding her.
Confused, she opened her mouth as if to ask a question, only to find that she was incapable of speaking. Her lips parted, her stomach pulled in slightly with the effort of her diaphragm pushing air from her lungs, through her mouth, past her teeth; but, no sound came. Only the fog of breath escaped her quivering lips.
She continued walking, now with purpose, determined to reach the brilliant light, to find the source that she knew would return her voice. Sidney’s steps came more quickly, more sure footed, the cold and bitter snowflakes swirling up from her bare feet, her gray flannel nightgown wrapping and binding her legs to strides much shorter than her determined mind wanted. It took only a few moments to close the distance. As she shrugged the shawl from her shoulders she leaped forward and grasped the gleaming chrome handle of an ancient car door, wrenching it open.
Sidney Palmer was right in her instinct that the light would, somehow, bring her voice back. A high-pitched, guttural scream floated from her mouth as the cold, dead hands of the passenger flashed out, grasped her wrists and pulled her bodily into the car.
As the door closed, the passenger whispered into Sidney’s ear, “We’ve been waiting for you, sweetheart. The young ones always taste better.”
“Calm down, child,” said the raspy voice from the darkness, its owner pulling Sidney into the back seat with considerable ease.
Struggling, fighting, Sidney tried to wrench her hands free, twisting her arms, pulling her shoulders back, as if trying to row her way out of the car. The ancient woman kept perfectly still despite the effort of Sidney to free herself from the vise-like grasp.
“What is happening to me,” Sidney said, barely audibly, finally acquiescing.
“We’ve taken you, although it was much harder than I imagined. You’re quite powerful, you know.”
“Powerful? I’m only twelve,” said Sidney.
“Well, physically your still weak, but you’ve got considerable mental ability. It took me some time to quite your mind and bring you here. The fact that you awoke before I could get you into the car will be discussed at length with the coven,” said the witch.
Then, to the driver, “Take us to the Castle, now.”
The black Lincoln Continental pulled out of the snow-covered, gravel drive, turning onto the desolate highway, heading east, deeper into the forest. As the car sped up to uncomfortable speeds, Sidney leaned over slightly, studying the witch, her ashen gray skin draped loosely over impossibly angular bones, jet black hair hanging in tightly wound ringlets, framing her dead, sinister face.
“What are you? Why am I here?” she said, gaining some confidence that she wouldn’t be harmed. At least not right now.
“Please, I’m scared.”
The witch smiled, turning her head slightly to the side, adjusting herself in the seat to get a better look at her prey.
“I’m a witch. Although, it doesn’t really have any bearing on your situation as it stands. We’ve been paid, very well I might add, to collect you and bring you to our client.”
“Your client? Who would want me. I’m just a twelve year old girl that listens to Justin Beiber and ignores her parents,” said Sidney.
The deep, throaty chuckle from the witch was entirely out of place given the circumstances, thought Sindey.
“You’re far more than a simple twelve year old, Sidney. I can’t get into specifics yet, as our client will want to discuss it with you, but you are an … important person. Let’s just say your mental abililties, as raw as they are, will be extremely important in the coming wars,” said the witch.
“Wars? Who are you taking me to see?” said Sidney, fighting a bit more fervently, trying to wrench her hands free again.
“He is a Vampire. His name is Elias, and he has a very special girl named Poppy that he wants you to meet.”