1884 ~ Vanity:
So many dead by her hand, so many who have given their youth to her without having a say in the matter. The thrill of the kill was like a sweet nectar to her, the sensation of having the power of life and death was a drug that she wanted more of.
Oh the villagers were angry and scared about the murders over the years but she didn't care, their anger did not matter, only their youth. The elders she would kill happily, there was no issue there, but the young she would kill to feed from.
She could see their torches and hear their angry cries as they stood outside the house, she knew what they were here for – blood.
She knew that they blamed her and they were right to, she had so much as confessed to her crimes in public while slitting the throat open of a victim in front of them before running to the house, laughing with glee and euphoria at what she had done. She felt no shame, no regret, she felt only her hunger to remain as young and beautiful as she was forever.
They could kill her for all she cared, her youth and beauty will never fade. Never.
Swinging the large doors open, she steps out to face the villagers, a large smile on her face, blood around her lips.
“Welcome to my home, if you have come to kill me then please do, my deeds will be forever remembered, I will never die!” She laughs again, her laugh maniacal as several of the men approach her and restrain her, she doesn't fight them.
They push her back into the house and close the doors, then torches are thrown in after the windows are smashed and the carpets and curtains go up in flame. Still she laughs, dancing as she does so. She didn't care any more, she would never truly die, not really.
She doesn't see that as she is dancing that the flames are nearing her, she doesn't feel the flames as her clothes catch alight and she is encased in flame, she just laughs.
And the laugh doesn't end even after she is dead.
2014 ~ Mystery:
The race back to her house was a blur to her, she had stopped the car so fast and had run into her house, locking the door quickly and checking her windows and doors to make sure they are all closed and secure, which they were.
She didn't remember falling asleep on the sofa while clutching the biggest and thickest rolling pin she could find, it was all a blur to her.
Calls to her sister go unanswered before she passes out, the phone ringing wakes her hours later after the sun has risen. A co-worker was worried that she was late for work, something that usually never happened.
After saying that she would be right there, Laura freshens up, grabs a bite to eat and heads to her car. She looks over to her sister's house and wonders about popping in quickly to check on her, she couldn't risk being any later for work than she already was though.
What had she seen last night? Had it even been real? It couldn't have been, it was impossible. Wasn't it?
It had to be.
As Laura heads to work still thinking about what she had seen, Carrie is waking up from a night of nightmares. Everything felt so weird to her, like it wasn't all there, all she could see was that thing and Jane shrinking into her clothing.
Had it all been real? Had she really seen what she had seen? What was that thing? She needed to know, she had to know.
Sitting up in bed with a groan, Carrie tries to process what she had seen into a more understandable form. Was that creature some kind of secret in this town? If so then why? Surely the police and anyone else who knew wasn't actually turning their backs on people being hunted by this thing?
So many questions and not a single answer to be found, the police had even suggested to her when she had been in hospital for her to avoid speaking about what she had seen. They had seemed fearful when talking to her, but why?
What was that thing and where did it come from?
Images of what had happened to Garret continue to plague Laura's thoughts as she tries to work, it was hard to believe that what she had seen could have been real, but it made more sense for it to be real than not. She had really seen Garret become younger and then disappear, she had seen that whatever it was. Had that thing been responsible for the disappearances of her parents and many others over the years?
She wanted to talk about it but who would believe her?
“Laura? Boss wants to see you” She doesn't respond at first, she was too lost in her thoughts. “Laura, boss wants to see you” A hand touches her shoulder and she jumps, her heart racing before she realises that a co-worker was trying to get her attention.
“Sorry, didn't mean to scare you, but the boss wants to see you” Nodding a mumbled thank you, Laura gets up from her desk and heads through to the mayor's office to see what she wanted.
She couldn't stop thinking about what she had seen.
Breakfast was tasteless to her, the act of the usual morning routine seemed hollow to her, even the call from her work about her being late didn't mean anything to her. How could it? Everything seemed so pointless while she tried to understand what she had seen.
No one talks to her much at work, which is fine with her, and once it is done she heads back home in time to see her sister waiting for her.
“Carrie, I think it's time I helped you” Laura says quietly and Carrie just nods, she felt so numb. After letting her in and closing the door, being sure to lock it securely after closing it, Carrie drops her coat and handbag on the floor with no desire to place them on their pegs and flops down on her sofa, Laura doesn't say anything for a moment.
“I saw it” Laura eventually says. “Garret called me after you had passed out, I went to see her and I told her to drop the case. I went back to my car and I heard her scream, I turned back and I saw her being held by something, and I watched her shrink into her clothing, I watched her turn into a child then disappear. I wanted to help but I couldn't, then it came for me and I barely got away. You were right, the whole bunch of you were right, there is something here and it's responsible for the disappearances. Carrie? Say something” The lights flicker before going off completely and a loud thump can be heard upstairs.
“Oh shit” Carrie whispers.
The mayor was nothing special in many regards, she had a stern appearance but was capable of surprising compassion when she wanted to be kind. Other times she was someone you really didn't want to anger, even at her age of 60 years old she was a force to be reckoned with which many of her rivals have found out over the years.
“Miss Harrison, take a seat” She waits until Laura is sitting before continuing. “I understand that your sister had an encounter yesterday, is that correct?” A nod. “Miss Harrison, your sister's encounter is a risky one. What she has seen has been a closely guarded secret for some time, we have tried to avoid the disappearances being known outside of this town but that is now looking unlikely” The cries of a new born baby, of Garret's final cries, echo in her mind, had that been real? Had Garret been reduced to, what, to nothing by whatever that thing was? How was that even possible?
“Over a century ago there was a very wealthy family who had been one of the founders of this town, they had been a generous and caring family who had given a lot to the townspeople. When the last of the family had been murdered we lost a very valued and loved part of our town, their legacy however has left a very ugly and very dark shadow that continues to this day” Those screams, that cry, could she have been able to help? Or would she just be another pile of empty clothes and a single drop of blood on the tarmac?
“In the late 19th century a spate of murders occurred and the culprit was the eldest daughter of that family, she was known as Alica Forest. Her parents had tried to marry her off to no avail, she had no interest in being married to anyone. Many felt that she was not very interested in men or not interested in any kind of sexual relationship at all, it is hard to say, but she never married. Instead she turned to murder” Is this what had happened to her parents all those years ago? Had they been de-aged to the point of conception without a fight? Her sister was right, they had been murdered.
“From what people have been able to piece together from her diaries, which had survived the fire that destroyed her home and ended her life, or so they had thought, the murders were her attempt at being young and beautiful forever. She believed that by taking their souls at the point of death that she would be given long life, so for several years she would invite the most beautiful and handsome townspeople to her home where she would wine and dine them, then drug them and kill them” How many have been murdered in this fashion? How many more would die? If being reduced to the point of conception could even be considered murder.
“After several years she confessed to her crimes in public, but not in a court or in church, but in the town square when she slit open the throat of a young woman and seemingly kissed her as she died. She confessed to her crimes and coaxed the villagers to kill her, which they did as they chased her back to her house where they killed her. They thought that the deaths would end, but they were wrong. A few days after Alica was murdered the disappearances began, one a week at first, then two. Never too many at one time, never more than ten at a time and there would always be a gap of a year between the disappearances” So many killed, if it could be called death, so many lives wiped away.
“We learned exactly what was happening when forensics and science improved, we learned that the victims were having their youth removed from them and in the process were being made so young that they would reach the point of conception, leaving only a drop of blood and a very small amount of genetic material. Without anything to sustain them and allow for development, those cells died quickly. The victims were simply being denied existence in a very cruel fashion, by being made completely helpless then reduced to nothing but basic cells” She hears the words, she hears everything and she sees the images of Garret's demise.
“Lauren was my daughter, Miss Harrison, and now she's nothing but cells that will never live again, that will never be that beautiful baby girl I gave birth to. I am tired of that creature being hidden, of the disappearances being swept under the carpet because of fear. It needs to end one way or another, the creature has taken too many lives from us” Yes, it had to end, it needed to. This couldn't be allowed to continue.
1884 ~ Vanity:
Hunger, need, she, no, it felt nothing but those yearnings. It needed to feed, it needed youth. Crackling is heard as burnt skin falls away, a twisted claw of a hand reaches out and finds purchase in the burnt wood. A hiss of hunger, a yearning, a need.
It needed to feed.
The chill of the day does not faze it, the burnt skin falling away from it's twisted mass does not bother it, only the need to feed keeps it moving. Youth, it needed youth.
It can hear the sounds of people near by, it did not want to attract a crowd though, it would have to take one of them without being seen. So it waits, stalking, watching, waiting. The hunger is intense but the danger was too great, too many people to defend against.
It sees a villager walking alone, it waits until the villager is close enough then reaches out quickly and pulls the villager in. The villager tries to scream but is silenced by a claw while the other claw grips tightly onto the throat.
The villager begins to shrink, their features soften, youthfulness returns to their aged features and the villager becomes lighter as their mass decreases. The sensation of feeding was intense, overwhelming. It's body sang with the delight as it fed, it did not care what was happening to the villager for the youth only became purer, more delicious as the villager rapidly returned to infancy.
Soon there was nothing but a pile of clothes at it's feet, the villager was gone and some viscous fluid along with a single drop of blood splashed down onto the clothing.
More, it needed more. It must feed!
2014 ~ Mystery – Mayor Ipson:
Giving Laura access to the private records, Mayor Sandra Ipson heads back to her office and takes out an old photo album. The news of her daughter's death had been hard on her but she hadn't wanted to show any sorrow in case it made others lose any morale due to the disappearances.
Too many people were disappearing and she didn't want to cause a panic, although one was bound to occur if the creature couldn't be stopped.
For years she had tried to keep it as secret as her predecessors had done, they had explained the reasons why and she had accepted them. But none of them had lost a family member to the creature, none of them were facing a funeral without a body to be buried or cremated.
How could one bury a dried spot of blood and dead cells that couldn't be seen in anything but a microscope?
She opens the album and the first picture she sees is herself as a much younger woman 16 years younger than her daughter had been at the time of her death holding a new born baby girl in her arms, a large beaming smile of tired pride on her face.
She had loved her daughter deeply and had done nothing to prevent her daughter from investigating the disappearances, aside from preventing her from accessing the private records. Maybe if she had given her the access then she would still be here, maybe.
A sudden chill can be felt from behind her and she turns to see a window has opened, and a shape stands.
“Take me then, you took all I had left. You want your revenge then go ahead, have it! You'll never be satisfied, Alica, never!” The shape hisses in hunger and reaches out, gripping Sandra's shoulder tightly.
As her clothes begin to loosen and the years fall away, Sandra thinks of her daughter before darkness embraces her.
Another heavy thump can be heard from upstairs, the doors upstairs were closed but that likely wasn't going to stop whatever it was up there.
“We need to leave the house, come on!” Laura remarks as she makes for the door, Carrie doesn't move from the sofa though. “Carrie, come on! It already got the mayor earlier and several of the staff, it didn't get me because I was going through the private records” She turns back to her sister who is just looking up at the ceiling.
“It isn't safe here, Carrie, that thing is after both of us!” Carrie doesn't say anything, she just listens while looking up at the ceiling.
“Carrie, we have to go!” Carrie raises a hand, a finger going to her lips. The street light outside the house gives a little light but not much.
“It will just come after us no matter where we go, it's seen us and we've seen it, it won't stop until we're gone” Getting up from the sofa quickly, Carrie heads through to the kitchen and returns with a couple of kitchen knives and torches. Handing one of each to her sister, she indicates to the upper floor and to the stairs, that was the only way down to the lower floor.
“That thing is stronger than us, than pretty much anyone, one touch and we're done for” Laura hisses, the thought of being reduced to nothing but basic cells didn't appeal to her.
“It will just keep coming after us, I can hear it in your voice, you know what this thing is and you know that it won't stop. What is it?” Laura explains as quickly as she can, another loud thump can be heard and the sound of a door opening upstairs can be heard.
“So it's some kind of monster created from a dead psychopath who died over a century ago? Great, that's just great, really. And it reduces it's victims to the point of conception leaving just a drop of blood and basic cells behind? That's even better! We've not monster hunters, Laura, both of us can barely open a jar without help, what chance do we have against a youth eating monster?” Another thump, it sounded a lot closer.
“None, that's why we should run for the car and get out of town, it never ventures far from the town limits, we'll be safe as long as we're miles away from here” A hissing like sound can be heard from above them. “RUN!” Laura yells as a shape drops down in front of them, Carrie lashes out with a foot and a pained hiss can be heard. Grabbing her sister, Laura runs for the back door and barely manages to get it open before a mass hits her from behind, and something strong grips her throat.
1992 ~ Vanity:
Hunger, food, it needed youth. So many to stalk, so many to take. A couple approaches, they are both in their mid forties, they would be enough. Food.
They don't see it until it's too late, it jumps out in front of them and grips their arms tightly. They try to fight it off but their strength is draining as the years fall away. The husband tries in vain to kick out, but his shoes are too big for him now and they are sent flying.
The wife screams as loud as she can, her scream sounding younger with each passing second. The husband weakens at the same rate as his wife, both of them now little more than children of barely four years old, now three, two, one. They cry and soon those cries cease, silence fills the night.
The clothes aren't found until the next morning, ID is found on them when the police search through the clothing. Karen and David Harrison, they had two children, Carrie Harrison age 10, Laura Harris age 23.
Laura takes the news with shocked silence, Carrie screams and cries for her parents to return. They never do, they are never able to.
The funeral is an awkward affair, no bodies to bury, only empty caskets. With no one to care for her sister, Laura becomes her sister's sole guardian.
The disappearances continue, unsolved, no bodies to bury.
And it continues to hunt.
2014 ~ Mystery:
The grip is tight and Laura tries to get free of it, but her strength is slipping away and her clothes seem to be becoming loose as her age begins to melt away.
“LET GO OF MY SISTER!” Carrie screams out and she slashes out at the creature, the knife not even making much of an impact. The creature hisses and lets Laura go before turning on Carrie, tackling her and holding her down.
Feeling her strength return to her, Laura quickly gets up and sees her sister beginning to shrink rapidly, she looked to be no more than sixteen years old, now fifteen.
Grabbing the first thing that comes to hand, Laura brings it down as hard as she can onto the creature while yelling at it to let go of her sister.
“LET HER GO! CARRIE!” Carrie tries to cry out, her voice sounding like that of a six year old girl.
“Lauwa! Hewp me!” Baby fat forms on Carrie's face and increases, she was no more than two years old now, tiny in her clothes. Bringing down what she had grabbed even harder, Laura kicks at the creature and it finally lets go of Carrie and turns to Laura, hissing angerily. The sound of a baby crying can be heard from Carrie's clothes.
“You want youth? Be reborn!” Laura cries out as she brings her weapon down hard onto the creature's head, making it stagger and fall to the ground. Again she hits it and again, throwing all of her rage and anger into every hit. With a hiss of pain and hunger, the creature avoids the final hit and runs into the night as quickly as it can, leaving Laura standing with what she finds to be a shovel in her hands, Carrie must have left it out when she was shovelling the snow that had covered the town last week.
Dropping to her knees in exhaustion, Laura turns her attention to her sister and picks up the tiny infant in the bundle of clothes. Carrie coos at her, now little more than around 18 months old, maybe a little younger. Her eyes showing her return to innocence, her hair soft and wispy on her head, her arms, hands and fingers as tiny as Laura remembered from when Carrie had been a baby before so many years ago, back when their parents had been alive.
“My beautiful, brave sister, I'm so sorry that I didn't believe you. You were right all along” Carrie just babbles in reply and reaches for her sister, not caring that she's wetting herself and her former grown up clothing.
A few days after fighting the creature away, Laura kisses her sister gently on the forehead and returns to her typing, her sister babbles happily in her baby swing while she plays with her rattle.
'I will close this report with these final thoughts. I do not know if the legacy of Alica will ever end, the private records reporting that what was created from her remains has proven to be hard to injure or kill, it's strength is enough for it to fend off against many men, it can survive being burned, run over, crushed, beaten and shot.
This town is cursed by the twisted remains of a mad woman who died revelling in her madness, from what the reports have said as the villagers heard her laugh until she died, and even then her laughter still echoed in the ruins of the former Forest house. That curse may never be ended if the monster that has come from those remains is unable to be destroyed.
My return to young adulthood is taking some time to get used to, being in my early twenties again is nice but unusual at the same time. To be so young again and so filled with energy is not what I ever expected, I was reluctantly getting used to the fact that I was no longer a spring chicken, so to speak.
My sister's return to infancy has been hard to adapt to, she is such a beautiful and precious baby, but I am worried that I may not be a good mother to her. And in many ways I am her mother now, the monster's reversion process when it attacked me and fed on me has changed things in me, I do not feel like a sister to my sister, I feel like a mother, I have even found myself lactating and breast feeding her.
I am concerned about how this will affect my sister, well my daughter I guess if these motherly feelings continue to increase. It will be hard to explain all of this to her when she is older, if I feel it is best to explain it to her.
I have decided that it is time for me and Carrie to leave this town, the monster will only return for us and I do not want to risk either of our lives. The arrangements have already been made, it is short notice but every second here is just too dangerous for both of us.
I hope that some day the legacy of Alica will be ended, for the sake of the townspeople and for anyone who comes to this town.
Her vanity and lust for eternal youth turned her into a monster, and that monster is feeding on the youth of innocent people, their very lives.
Monsters truly do exist, and they never give up as long as you are in their sights.'
Her typing now finished, Laura saves the file to an external drive, takes the drive from the computer and places it in her handbag.
“Well then, my little nappy bum, let's get out of here” Laura remarks as she takes Carrie from her baby swing and straps her into a baby car seat, Carrie happily blowing bubbles before sucking on her baby dummy that Laura pops into her mouth.
Laura's car leaves the outskirts of the town behind, leaving behind many painful memories. In the back seat Carrie suckles on her baby dummy happily while Laura focuses on her driving, occasionally taking a second to peek back on Carrie, smiling with love and tenderness for her sister.
“Wherever we go, I hope we never return here”
Ten weeks later:
Hunger, food, need food. Must feed.
Someone coming this way, a ripe age, plenty to eat, to consume. Must eat, food, need, hunger.
Vanity thy name is