Grandmother's Footsteps

Written by Glassdarkly, February 2008

He heard the singing first.

"Run and catch, run and catch, the lamb is caught in the blackberry patch..."

His head throbbed like the devil, but the soft, throaty voice was soothing, like warm syrup in his ears.

"Dru?" His voice came out a croak. Licking dry lips, he wondered why his tongue felt too big for his mouth.

She laughed just once. "Daddy's awake."

Then she began humming to herself, a meandering little tune that stuttered to a halt and began again, ultimately going nowhere.

At last, he managed to crack an eye open and gaze about him. Dust tickled his nose, which was pressed into the mattress. There was dampness beneath his cheek where he'd drooled on the sheet. He blinked, puzzled, trying to place himself.

There'd been a card game at the gentlemen's club not his club, of course, but when had that ever stopped him before? a decanter of brandy that had begun the evening full, been re-filled twice and was still very empty by the end of it. Then, that young fool Lord Laverock and the brothel what a find! He must be sure to return when sober and sample the wares properly yet more brandy the alley down by the slipway. The Englishman's blood must have been 100% proof by then.

Complacently, he wondered where downriver the body would wash up.

"Dru?" He couldn't remember reaching home. Had she perhaps found him lying drunk in the gutter? It would be very like her to follow and spy on him.

Trying to ignore the pounding in his head, he gazed about him. Where was the girl? A glimpse of white out of the corner of his eye revealed her whereabouts. It was only when he levered himself onto his elbows trying to see better that he discovered the chains.

"What the " He exploded upwards off the bed, like a lion out of a cage, fangs and ridges to the fore, only to be dragged ignominiously back down by the shackles at wrist and ankle. At the same time, he realised he was naked. The daft bitch had stripped him too.

"Naughty daddy." She was in front of him, crouched down so they were eye-to-eye. Her pale gaze regarded him curiously. "I haven't said you can get up yet."

He gaped at her in astonishment. Had the girl gone mad? Even as he thought it, she tilted her head on one side, bird-like, and he asked himself who should know the answer to that question better than he?

"Let me go, Dru, or so help me, when I'm free, you'll wish you were dust before I'm done with you."

Her only answer was another laugh. She rose to her feet and wandered away. A moment later, he heard her opening cupboards.

"What are you doing?"

She'd been singing to herself again. At the question, she stopped and tutted, as if a particularly stupid child had asked it. Objects rattled as she took them down from the shelves. There was a familiar swishing noise that sent chills down his spine.

"Dru? Answer me!"

Then she was in front of him again. This time, he took in her appearance the dishevelled dark hair falling about her shoulders the fact that she wore nothing save a flimsy white chemise. He could see the dark buds of her nipples through the thin cotton. Blue eyes, devoid of reason, regarded him with feline intensity.

"Drusilla!" Suddenly, he was desperate to get free. "Unchain me now, or it'll be the worse for you, girl."

This time, however, his most forceful tone the one that usually made her whimper and cower down, hands over her head to protect herself had no effect whatsoever.

Instead, she frowned and tapped him hard on the nose with one dainty finger.

"Bad daddy. Don't you understand yet? Everything's backwards."

"What are you talking about?"

His eyes tracked her frantically as she rose to her feet again and walked round behind him. She began to count a series of items arranged on the bed.

"Beads yes, switch yes "

"Darla!" Terror gripped him. She was going to

Drusilla tutted again. "Grandmother's not here, silly daddy. But I haven't forgotten what she told me."

She smiled. "No, indeed. She said I was to take care of you. "Look after Angelus while I'm gone," she said. Make sure he behaves himself, and if he's bad, punish him, like I would."

Suddenly, words failed him. All he could do was gape at her, as she picked up the string of big glass beads and dangled it so that the lowest one just barely touched him. Down, down the length of his spine it trailed, until it rested, with sullen promise, just where the flesh began to swell. Her eyes grew round with anticipation and she sighed softly.

"Dru " he tried again. He gritted his teeth. "Please let me go. I'll take you dancing."

For a moment, she took her eyes off the dangling bead.

"I do love to dance."

"I know you do," he said, eagerly. "And Darla's not here." He grinned at her- a hopeful co-conspirator. "And while the cat's away "

Suddenly, she struck him a glancing blow on the rump with the doubled-up chain of beads. He jumped and swore.

"Bad Daddy!" she said, again. "Trying to make me forget my duty to Grandmother." The beads slithered into a heap on the silk counterpane as she picked up the whalebone switch.

"Grandmother told me to make sure you behaved yourself." Her tone was stern as an aged schoolmistress's. "Collapsing drunk in the street where the naughty sun can find you is not behaving yourself."

Her arm went back.

"Dru for God's sake!" His muscles contracted in fright.

Her arm paused on the upswing. Her expression showed no mercy, only the implacability of madness.

"God," she intoned, "has nothing to do with us. You taught me that, Angelus. Now it's time for me to teach you something."