The Child Snatcher

-For the 24 hour City of bones contest--

London is not the town we all know and love any more. It's a town haunted by witches, goblins and all sorts of creatures that are all out to get the humans that are walking so aimlessly around. And amongst all these terrifying creatures is The Child Snatcher. She steals your children from you and has no remorse. That is until an encounter with a young child whom is different from the others she finds out.

But the question is; who really is this child snatcher? Who is she really?

--It is a bit of an odd read here but I thought I'd give it a go anyway! Thanks and I appreciate any comments. Tory :-)
--I just counted the words on word and is at a steady 1,996 words! So close to the 2,000!!! (Not including the title or the quote -they aren't part of the actual story just a bit extra to set the scene.)

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1. The Child Snatcher

The Child Snatcher

 

“The robb'd that smiles, steals something from the thief; He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.”

William Shakespeare, Othello

 

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1932

The Witch Hunt

*

 “B-b-baby! Where’s my baby!”

 A podgy-faced woman with bright ginger hair and almost luminous looking freckles that were scattered across the bridge of her nose, screeched whilst on her knees.

 Tears rolled pitifully down her cheeks and onto the ground silently.

 But being the sadistic creature I was; I couldn’t help it when the edge of my mouth crept upwards and I slyly smiled at the helpless sight of this woman crying.

 After all, the woman deserved it.

 She had left her child out in its pushchair on a sidewalk in the great city of London of all places, for more than half an hour. Which to me was like she was practically signing the poor thing’s death certificate and voluntarily handing it over to me.

 Standing watching from a nearby alleyway I watched as the woman clumsily got off her hands and knees and started to frantically race around asking everyone if they’d seen where her child had gone.

 Of course none had.

 

And I knew days, weeks, months and even years later…

                                                    …this woman would still be there, still hunting for her what would be her 3year-old child by now, as frantically as she had been when he first went missing.

 Hanging up posters on every spare inch of space available on every wall she could find in London and thrusting leaflets into every walker on by ’s face.

 

 But the one thing I also knew about this woman was that she’d never be the same again. Her face that once used to look podgy, sun burnt and full of life will have wilted and weathered away. That's how much she will have changed because of this event.

 

The bond between mother and child…

So damn strong… I should know after all.

 

 The woman would never forgive herself, and even though there would be a day when this woman finally stopped looking, stopped searching… she’s never stop remembering this day.

 I knew I wouldn’t forget and it wasn’t even my child.

 With every child snatch I took I would engrain it into my brain to make sure I wouldn’t ever forget the pain I caused on these innocents.

 A wrinkly old fortune teller slowly and steadily wobbled her way up to the red haired woman, poking at the ground with her stick and placing a old wrinkly hand on the woman’s shoulder.

 Tuning in my ears to the sound of the old woman’s hushed voice I listened in.

 The old woman whispered into the red head's ear, “If you want to get your child back you’ll listen to me very carefully now my dear.”

 The woman swirled around pointing an accusing finger at the old woman. “If you have taken my baby I swear to God I’ll-I’ll-”

“Shut up you silly cow!” The old woman scowled back at her. “It was not me whom stole your babe! It was the Child Snatcher Witch!” The red head stiffened upon hearing this, obviously recognising the title that had been whispered around in the recent rumors around the city.

 The old woman took a step back and began to yell out at the crowd that was beginning to form around them, “The Child Snatcher has struck again fair people of London! And she will not stop until she has taken all our babes and boiled them into a pie for her and her sisters to feast upon.”

 The loud bustling sound of the crowd echoed around as everyone fixed their eyes and ears upon the old woman and began listening to her endless rambling.

“The Child Snatcher is the ugliest creature in the world with her dull grey skin, poisonous red pimples and crooked nose!”

 Everyone gasped in response.

 The old woman was in her element, she paced up and down the sidewalk relentlessly and began poking and prodding at mothers and fathers with her wooden stick, working the crowd up into a frenzy.

 “But be warned… this beast takes many forms, so don’t be fooled by her sometimes innocent exterior… She can look like anything from a young child playing with a football in the street to a  olden looking woman like me.”

 A man stepped out of the crowd towards the old woman. “How do we know then if it is her?” He questioned the woman.

 The crowd roared in agreement to the man’s question.

“Her eyes!” The woman scowled at the on lookers, pointing at her eyes with her long talons. “The only thing she can’t change is her eyes! They make her stand out from us humans! Nothing is quite like them! They are a bright amber in colour and are unmistakable!  Once you see them, you’ll know you’ve seen the damned witch!”

 The crowd fell into uproar at this.

“Lets kill her then!” A voice suddenly sounded through the crowd. “Kill her now before she takes our children and grinds their bones to make her bread!” 

 Wrong fairytale idiot. 

 Everyone knows that it’s the giants that grind bones to make bread.

“Stab her with the stake!” A spotty faced young adolescent growled under his breath; pathetically waving around a cross shaped stake in his hands angrily.

 Dude that’s not cool. It’s the vampires that are allergic the wooden stakes not witches.

 “Quiet!” The old woman roared. Everyone fell silent under her command. “The only way to kill a witch is to rip her frozen heart right out of her chest…” She drew a cross over her own boney chest, “…with this dagger.”

 The woman brought out a sequin embodied sheaf and slowly and steadily pulled a gem encrusted knife out, it’s double-edged blade catching the sun and gleaming furiously at the crowd.

 Holding the knife up in the air, the old woman yelled out into the crowd in victory. “We will get her dear people of London! And when we do, the only blood that will be shed will be hers!”

 

 And then the witch-hunt began.

 

**************

-2013-

 Dark tantalizing obsidian water encircled us; it’s cruel lingering fingertips brushing the edges of my ankles and making me shiver in disgust. The beams of iridescent light fell down from the gaps in the rusted metal grid above our head as we walked on by.

 “Just keep moving Allegra.” I whispered under my breath to myself with my teeth chattering.

 My frail arms clung onto the shivering figure I had hoisted up on my hip as I slowly waded on through the swirling black water that slushed around in the water sewer.

 “I’m scared.”  I flinched as I felt the nails of a small child press into the flesh of my shoulder as I struggled along.

 I gritted my teeth together angrily. I didn’t deserve this injustice. “And so you should be. I’m the great witch child snatcher and you’re never going to see your parents ever again.” I hissed back at the whimpering critter.

 I stopped for a moment, plucking the fingers of the small child off shoulder to the dislike of the small pest, whom began to wail aimlessly.

“If you don’t shut up now I’ll go find a goblin and trade you for a new fur coat.” I growled out impatiently. I really didn’t need this now, especially not after the day I’d had.

“W-w-witch! C-c-child snatcher!” The crying child threw her limbs around, kicking at my stomach that almost buckled under the force and her screaming her tiny little head off. “Daddy will find you and once h-he does, he’ll hurt you w-witch!”

*

 It took us a good few hours to get out of the water sewers but once we were back out onto the streets I finally began to pick up the pace. After all, I was on a schedule.

 And we didn’t have much time left to spare.

 I ran on through the murky deserted streets of London with the screaming child that kept wriggling around in my arms, and that’s when I heard it.

The distant footfalls of an avid witch hunter coming to get me.

 I whirled around violently only to face the man whose face I’d been having nightmares about for the past 81 years.

 His cheekbones as angular and sharp as they had been 81 years ago when I had traced them with my own fingertips… admiring the shadows they casted across his almost flawless complexion. I used to admire the crisscrossed scars that lined the skin above his left temple and stare into those penetrating emerald eyes.

 Who could have forgotten those eyes? They practically baked you alive and were now currently fixed on my own blinking furiously.

“Daddy!” The small child took advantage of my stunned stance and jumped out of my arms and ran up to the 6 foot seven towering creature in front of me.

“Tasha.” He whispered as he gathered the crying kid up into his arms and hoisted her up onto his hip, all the while keeping his eyes fixed upon me.

 I just stood there with my mouth agape as I watched the two together and suddenly how similar they actually looked hit me like a pile of bricks. Ouch.

 His dark wavy hair was as black as the murky waters that had surrounded us as we made our way through the water sewers, and so was hers. His sharp angular features were identical to hers. Everything about them was cloned in the other.

 Everything but their eyes.

 Whilst his were as green and fresh as a freshly mowed grass, hers were dazzling golden colour that shone outwards like the sun.

“How could you do it Allegra?” He blinked at me.

“Do what?”

“You know exactly what and don’t tell me its because of Tasha.”

“Aaaah…” I let one corner of my mouth curl upwards in a half smile half grimace. “You mean the child snatching.”

“Yes.” He growled out at me.

I shrugged in reply. “I’m a witch and its what I’ve been brought up to do soooo…”

“We both know that’s not true Allegra.”

“I was searching for something…” I let my eyes rest on Tasha for a brief moment, “and I still haven’t found it.”

He closed his eyes and lifted a broad hand up to his head sighing. “Yes you have Allegra.”

“What do you mean?” I asked him confusedly.

“I kept her away from you because of your stupid delusions Allegra.”

“Delusions?!” I scoffed.

“Yes. Delusions Allegra.” He scowled at me. “You are not a witch.”

“Yes I am!” I growled at him waving my arms around. “See watch this…” I pointed my finger at a lamppost, eager to prove him wrong, “Move.”

 It didn’t move.

“Hmmm… I must be getting a little rusty… hang on.” I tried again, still no movement.

 He raked his spare hand up to his hair and dragged it through, sighing all the while. “Allegra please just stop this stupid little fantasy you’ve got going on here and just come home with us. Come home with your daughter and husband please.”

“Witch hunter!” I yelled at him.

“No I’m not.” He held out his hand to me. “But I do love you and we can be together if you choose to get help.”

 I bit my lip. Was it really all one big fantasy in my head?

 Or was he just trying to trick me? After all those witch hunters were known for their scheming ways.

 Either way I needed help. It was getting cold and starting to splatter down with rain and I had no shelter, so I did the only thing I thought was an option at the time… I reached for his hand and that’s when we started on down the street back home. 

 Briefly though I did turn my head to look back…

 And I couldn’t quite believe what I saw...

The lamppost had fallen to the floor like something had crashed right into it.

 

It had moved, which only meant one thing...

 

 I am the great Child Snatcher of London after all.

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