The overhead light irritated his eyes. Ambrose swore in fluent French and shut the light off. He paced in his darkened room.
Elsie hadn’t returned. Not that night and not the following morning.
He had tried to tear the doorknob off the door.
He had tried to kick the door down.
He had tried to slash the door into toothpicks.
Didn’t work at all.
And he was hungry.
He had shredded his feather pillow, which had satisfied his need to destroy something.
But he was hungry.
And Elsie was not there.
His stomach grumbled its empty discontent.
Ambrose ran full speed at the door and kicked the doorknob. He knew it wouldn’t work.
He didn’t expect it to work.
The doorknob fell off.
The door popped open.
He stood still, stunned.
Someone was coming down the stairs. Someone who smelled like sunflowers and daylily leaves.
It wasn’t Elsie.
He opened the door all the way and widened his eyes.
Ambrose saw her – a girl in a nightgown.
She wasn’t alone.
A gargoyle walked beside her. His wings were folded against his back.
“It’s so dark.” she whispered.
“Are you afraid, Lady Jane?”
“No. I just wish I had a flashlight. Hey. Did you bring one?”
He sighed. It sounded like dirt falling into a ravine. “I didn’t think of it.”
Ambrose covered his mouth with his hands. It’s Elsie’s niece.
“So, Ephrem. What do you think she’s hiding down here?”
“I am uncertain.”
Ambrose trembled. I shouldn’t…I should leave her alone. I promised. I promised. But I’m so hungry. But I can’t. I can’t. I..
His stomach hurt with hunger.
He moaned. It started as a soft whimper and soared into a gut wrenching yell.
Jane startled and ran.
“Lady Jane! Wait!”
She ran blind.
Her gargoyle fumbled in the dark, trying to find her, trying to grab her.
She ran right towards Ambrose. “Ephrem! Where are you?”
He uncovered his mouth. I promised Elsie that I would leave her be. If Jane stayed out of my space. He smiled. Guess what, Elsie? She’s in my space.
She ran into his room.
He slammed the door shut.
Jane turned and ran into the door. She felt around for the doorknob.
He grabbed her arm.
She gasped. “You aren’t Ephrem.”
“And you aren’t Elsie.” He laughed softly in the darkness. “But I think that you will do.”
“Let me go.” She tried to pull her arm away from him, but he held tight.
“Don’t worry, Elsie’s niece. I’ll only bite your arm. Not your neck. I could, though. It’s so tempting.”
“Don’t…” Her voice came out as a thin whisper. “Please.”
“It’s all right, Jane. I’ll show you mercy this time.” He bared his fangs and bit her arm.
Her blood poured into his mouth.
He almost screamed with relief.
The last sound he heard was Jane crying.