The snowflakes were like flowers made of ice. It's hard to imagine them becoming deathly cold bringing poverty and fatalities. I grew up in a small Lithuanian village beside mountains and a lake, filled with fish. My ma and pa used to take me there to go fishing, sometimes paddle in a boat, or to drink when we were wolves each full moon.
Now this lake was frozen over. The winter had been terrible each year. Mostly the elderly and babies perished in the winter months when it was too freezing cold. None of them could afford any fuel to keep warm. I tried helping some people with giving away (yes, literally), ma's crotchet blankets and wool. I told people to insulate their little wooden houses with a bundle of wool, or failing that, roll up wild dry leaves into a cushion and place around the doors.
I advised them to make warm drinks and eat more. I tell them to ignore the health fanatics this time of year. What's important is staying warm and food acts as a fuel. Fat, carbs and sugar is the body's winter fuel. I catch fish for them, by having to dig a hole in the ice that way and sit for ages with a fishing rod. But I did this for the people who go starving and cold.
Ma and pa wrote letter after letter to the local government, pleading for funds to help people this dreadful winter. Our requests arrived in the form of a gentleman in smart black clothes, wearing dark shades so we couldn't see his eyes. His name was Count Kajus Naktis. He was very odd.
"Why the shades? It's winter," enquired pa.
"I cannot see very well in the snow," replied the count. He looked so gaunt and imposing at the same time. He was tall with broad shoulders, and his black hair was like PVC. He never smiled.
"Are you going to help the people?" ma wanted to know.
He turned to ma and replied: "No, I can't."
"Then why did you come here?"
"To observe you, the Vilkshimmers," he said.
They looked at him with wide eyes, and they were going amber with fury. I could sense familiar wolf fur, and anytime, they will transform through anger. I stood up hoping to distract them.
"You wrote to the government with accusations," said the count. "So far I've observed you as the well fed family who are pretty dominant in this isolated community. Everyone else living here is feeling vulnerable. There's been a high deathrate. I can't help but wonder if the pair of you might be taking advantage of the more weaker citizens."
My pa nearly hit him, and ma cried in fury.
"No!" I shouted and I chucked a stone on the floor to make it clatter.
Everyone looked at me.
"We care about the people living here. The fact is, my parents have been looking after them as much as they can. We need some help from you, sir!"
The count looked at ma. "Vilkshimmer, you have a strong minded child. I suggest you send her to school as it's the law of the land. She should not be home right now during the day at midweek. Why don't you send her to school?" asked the count, totally ignoring what I'd said!
I was sixteen and allowed some time off school to help the children and babies in the village. And today the small school was closed due to the weather.
Pa explained everything to the count. Then the strange official stood with his briefcase and opened it, shuffled papers inside and handed pa one sheet of silvery paper.
"Mister Vilkshimmer, you have until next month to pay for the costs of installing new boilers to the school and homes, as you are the voice of the community. If you don't pay, sorry. We can't help you."
"We can't afford that!" pa exclaimed when he read the statement. "Four million litas!!!!"
"Pay that with instalments, " said the cold hearted count. "Agree by tomorrow morning. Bring back this form to your nearest bank to sign the contract."
"If I agree to this, my family will forever be in debt!" Shouted pa.
When the count was gone, I noticed that he's left no footprints in the snow! I knew then that he was no official. He was a goul.
Ma and pa were busy argueing now. Ma said we can do this. Pa said it's no use. For some reason I couldn't tell them what I saw.
That full moon night I went out into the snow and became wolf, howled in sadness, while running to think over this horrible winter. I could tell that someone else in the village was dying tonight. I went over to the house of an elderly woman and I went through the door. I sat on the end of her bed and kept her warm. She was too weak to open her eyes. By morning the old woman was still alive. I helped save her.
The following day, the school reopened and I went to it. I might chat with the teachers. What more can I do to help in winter? The local government ignored my parent's letters. A spectral Count only wanted my pa's money. A vampire, that's what the count was. I'll do anything to protect my parents and the community.
((The Fenrir's Daughters fiction stories belong to author Rayne))
All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2015 Rayne Herbert.