Claudia Lives

As a child Claudia Rose Tardoe was rarely seen by anyone other than her small family or outside their secluded log cabin and most certainly never during the day. She had snow white flawless skin that was frigid to the touch and thick luscious waves of chestnut locks that hung to her lower back. She was slender as any other girl but could lift her father's cows out of the mud without breaking a sweat; in fact she didn't ever break a sweat. But the feature that disturbed people most about Claudia was her eyes; the left was a piercing ice blue while the right was a soothing lavender that sparkled in the candle light.

The moment she was born Claudia's parents knew that something was wrong. Their sweet little girl was born with two very large k9 teeth already extended from her upper jaw. With the simple exchange of a look these humble country folk knew what they had to do. After trying for years to have children they were not going to let anyone harm the only one they had just because she was a little different and so they concocted a rather ingenious plan. The father, Edwin, would go to town the next morning for a few supplies and inform the shopkeeper of the unfortunate still birth of his daughter. The shopkeeper's wife would then make sure the entire town knew by noon and Claudia would be safe, for a while at least.

By the time Edwin had returned home after finishing his duty in town his wife, Mary, had made another shocking discovery about their child. The babe was severely allergic to sunlight, in fact as soon as it touched her icy skin she would start to burn. Frightened, Mary did the only thing she could think of to keep the infant safe. She laid Claudia to bed inside the hope chest she had been given as a wedding gift and paced as she waited for Edwin. When her husband heard this news he set about right away to make a windowless box under the bed in the room that would one day be Claudia's, planning for her to sleep there during the day and be awake at night.

For nearly a year all was well, except that the couple couldn't seem to get Claudia to stop biting her mother as she fed. Poor Mary had scars around her nipples as well as scabs and open wounds. She sobbed quietly as she fed the child, the pain nearly driving her mad but still she fed her precious infant.

When it was time for Claudia to begin eating normal food they then found that she could not eat. Just the scent of anything being brought near her would bring the toddler to tears, her little face turning red as she flailed her arms to keep whatever it was away. Her father hated to see her cry and so as Claudia played quietly in front of the fire he would sit and watch her. He would spend his evenings deep in thought. While Edwin was figuring out what to feed their daughter Mary was forced to continue breast feeding Claudia, who by this time had a mouth filled with sharp teeth. Edwin could do nothing to help her.

Claudia was closing in on three when she discovered the solution to her own hunger problem. Edwin had taken her out one night to play in the cool summer evening, her skin glowing under the light of the full moon. As she drew in the dirt and chased fireflies around the yard, Claudia caught a smell on the wind. She tilted her head searching for the source of the enticing scent as it caused her stomach to grumble hungrily. Before her father could stop her she took off faster than any adult could run, her little form seeming to blur before his eyes. Edwin raced after her but soon couldn't even see her little green dress ahead of him. He was forced to return to his cabin home and face his wife with the news that he had lost their only child. With heavy feet he turned back the way he came and tried to think of what he should say.

As he entered through the front door his wife asked him where he had been and why Claudia was covered in blood. His eyes widened as Edwin peered around his once beautiful wife's skeletal form and saw his dark haired angel sitting on the floor licking drops of blood from her fingers. He shook his head as his wife tapped her foot on the floor waiting for a reply, her once plump rosy face now thin and nearly as pale as their daughter's. Edwin shrugged and shook his head again as he went to bed, knowing he had to be up at dawn to do the chores and head to town for a few supplies.

While in town the next day Edwin learned one of his neighbour's best milking cows had been killed the night before. Apparently the heifer had been drained of all its blood and its neck tore open by some sort of animal. The town's men were getting ready to search the woods for whatever may have killed Alexander Thompson's cow, they feared that one of the people might be next. Many of them encouraged Edwin to join them but it had suddenly dawned on him where Claudia had gotten the blood from the night before. So Edwin claimed that he must rush home to care for his poor simple wife who had never been the same after the still birth of their child and wished the hunters a false good luck.

Riding hard Edwin made it to the market in the next town over in record time, knowing he had to find something or Claudia might really hurt someone. With only the small bit of savings he had, Edwin bought a small flock of chickens and two roosters. Knowing his wife would not be happy with him spending what little bit of extra money they had Edwin headed home silently preparing himself for the long night ahead. Once Mary would have smiled and patted his arm, knowing that he hated not having money and wanting to comfort him, but isolation and the strain of caring for their odd child had turned the sweet girl he had married into a cruel shrew of a woman.

Over the years Claudia's father was forced to spend their savings again and again, always needing more laying hens to keep the flock big enough to sustain his child. While Edwin worried over their money problems Mary took to torturing the one that caused her isolation, Claudia. Usually her father was still in the fields when she rose from under her bed, having to work twice as hard to keep her well fed and well hidden at the same time. This left Claudia, now thirteen, alone with her somewhat insane mother for hours on end. Many times Mary would prick herself with a sewing needle so a drop of blood welled onto her finger, she would then turn to watch her daughter's pupils dilate with a sadistic smile on the older woman's face.

On one occasion when Mary did this Edwin was not yet home form the fields. Claudia had been awake for maybe half an hour and, like the dutiful daughter that her father had raised her to be, she was helping her mother prepare her father's meal. Claudia had been stirring the stew while her mother chopped a few more vegetables from the garden to fill it since meat was scarce that month. Suddenly the enchanting scent of blood filled Claudia's nostrils and her eyes turned crimson as she whipped around to face her mother.

By the time poor weary Edwin returned home that night it was too late for him to fix his little misfit family. In the kitchen he found a horrific sight that would haunt his dreams until his dying day. Claudia was sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor, cradling her mother's lifeless form in her arms and sobbing into the beautiful golden hair that was already beginning to lose its shine. As his heart broke in two Edwin vowed to never let his daughter go so long without feeding again and planned a trip to town to feed the shopkeeper a new story about his wife being killed by wolves.

Everyone knew that Edwin and Mary had had another child shortly after the birth of the dead one and everyone knew that the girl was frail and sickly. This was the excuse they used when Edwin stopped coming to town, without his wife to care for their child he had no time to ride in. From that day on all his supplies were delivered by his neighbour Alexander Thompson, who couldn't testify to ever seeing Edwin's daughter. In fact no one saw Claudia Rose Tardoe again until she was sixteen.

She was seen by quite a few people on the night when her father's childhood friend was due to arrive, having been asked by Edwin to give a hand on the farm. The man, Vincent, and his son, Simon, were going to stay with them and work along side her father. If he did not get some help that could work during the day, unlike Claudia, than Edwin was going to lose the farm and fortunately Vincent just happened to be looking for a new home. Our tale officially begins on the night when they arrive; little did the sleepy town of Hollows know what was about to happen. If the town's people had known the horrors soon to befall them they could have ended it and saved many great lives, but they didn't know and Claudia lives….